- Robbi Pickeral, College Basketball
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North Carolina coach Roy Williams held his annual summer news conference on Thursday. Some notes from the gathering….
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- With the entire starting front line from from last year’s team headed to the first round of the NBA draft, but a plethora of experience returning to the wing, many expect North Carolina’s offense to be more perimeter-based next season.
But hold your horses.
“If they make shots, I’m going to be excited about it,’’ coach Roy Williams said of UNC's shooting guards, including Reggie Bullock, Leslie McDonald, Dexter Strickland and P.J. Hairston. “But you’ve got to have some kind of inside threat. They played a pick-up game yesterday against the old guys, and they [UNC’s alumni] ran out and guarded Leslie and [Reggie] and didn’t let them get an open look. And they got their tails kicked.
“You’ve got to have some kind of threat inside to make people play you honest, and that’s one of the biggest challenges for us.”
The Tar Heels will look first (and maybe second and third) to sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo, who came on particularly strong during the postseason and pondered leaving early for the NBA draft, as well. He opted to return to improve his game, and he'll have plenty of opportunities.
Sophomore Desmond Hubert and incoming freshmen Joel James and Brice Johnson will also be vying for minutes in the post, but McAdoo should be UNC’s biggest big-man threat -- and perhaps the biggest help to opening some space for all those perimeter teammates who want to knock down shots.
“James Michael down the stretch was pretty doggone impressive for us,’’ Williams said. “He needs to be even more impressive for us in the future.”
SOME-AND-DONE: Williams isn’t going to stop recruiting one-and-done players any time soon.
But he’s not going to recruit five at one time.
“I’ve said since Day One, ‘I want to recruit Marvin Williams. I want to recruit Brandan Wright,’” Williams said. “But I don’t want to recruit five guys. John [Calipari, Kentucky’s head coach] is comfortable with that. I’m not comfortable with that. … I like a mix.
"I loved Marvin Williams and Quentin Thomas in the same class. Brandan Wright, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Deon [Thompson] and Alex [Stepheson] -- we had Deon play four years, Brandan left after his first year, Ty and Wayne left after their junior year after winning a national championship, Alex left because of a situation at home with his father. I’d take that every year.”
RIVAL FAVORITE: Williams said he wouldn’t be surprised if rival NC State is the preseason favorite to win the ACC next season.
“I would think that could very easily happen, and maybe should happen,'' he said. "In basketball, you can turn it around quicker than you can in football, when you need 30 or 40 players. Baseball, you need a couple of dominating pitchers and you can really do the same kind of thing. But I think Mark [Gottfried, State’s head coach] has done a great job. ... There’s some good talent and some good players there ... they’ve got some big-time opportunities.”
BRIEFLY: Williams said has no problem with McDonald playing in the NC Greater Pro Am this summer -- even though that’s where the redshirt junior tore an ACL last July, sidelining him for the season.
“Guys can get hurt walking across the street,’’ Williams said. “The only way to become a better basketball player is to play.
Eleven different NBA teams have called Williams about jobs over his career, but not in the past two or three years.
Strickland, still rehabilitating after February reconstructive knee surgery, has been cleared to shoot. But he still isn’t able to make sharp cuts. Williams hopes the senior will be cleared to fully return in August.
Williams said he still doesn’t know if he’ll attend the NBA draft: “I’ve been fighting it. In the old days, I didn’t even go because I thought it should be for the family. And Marvin [Williams] really wanted me to go, and Tyler [Hansbrough] threatened to beat me up if I didn’t go with him, and those kinds of things.”
Williams says he expects incoming freshman point guard Marcus Paige, who needed surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot during the offseason, to be healthy enough to participate in pick-up games and drills during summer school. All four freshmen are scheduled to arrive for second summer session this weekend.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.