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McAdoo still developing into UNC's go-to guy

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McAdoo still developing into UNC's go-to guy

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) James Michael McAdoo is still learning how to be North Carolina's go-to guy, from facing high expectations as an NBA prospect to overcoming defenses aiming to frustrate him.

At times, he's been an athletic big man who beats defenders to the rim, flies into the paint to crash the boards and reliably knocks down a face-up jumper. At others, he looked tentative and content to blend in instead of seizing the lead role.

But McAdoo describes himself as a young player making gradual improvement that mirrors his team's oncourt growth.

``I'm not worried about myself in general,'' McAdoo said. ``I've been playing basketball my whole life. All I know is to just keep playing and keep working. I feel like I'm confident and I know as long as I do what I'm supposed to do - that I'm showing up every day ready to work and putting in the extra time - that everything will take care of itself.''

At first glance, the 6-foot-9, 230-pound sophomore from Norfolk, Va., is right on schedule heading into Saturday night's trip to No. 18 North Carolina State. He's averaging 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds to lead the team in both categories and he's scored in double figures in every game but one for the Tar Heels (13-5, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won three straight and are chasing their 14th straight win against the rival Wolfpack (15-4, 4-2).

Yet bring up McAdoo to fans or poke around online, and much of the talk centers on what McAdoo isn't doing.

He's not a dominant scorer. He's not an elite rebounder. He's a tweener who lacks a true back-to-the-basket game and some polish on the perimeter.

He's also gone from playing behind three NBA first-round picks as a freshman to the top of the scouting report.

``The defense was never aimed at him - we still had Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and those guys,'' UNC coach Roy Williams said Friday. ``It's a lot easier when the defense is not aimed to stop you. And now who do they talk about? They talk about James Michael and Reggie (Bullock). It's hard to handle that.''

The results have been solid but unspectacular so far.

McAdoo - a relative of former UNC great Bob McAdoo - had career highs of 26 points and 14 rebounds in the opener against Gardner-Webb, but he hasn't scored 20 points since and has managed just five double-doubles all year. He's shooting just 45 percent from the field and 58 percent from the foul line.

Still, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried sees improvement.

``I think even lately in the last couple of weeks, to me it seems like he is a lot more aggressive and he has taken on the responsibility to be one of the hardest-working players on the floor,'' Gottfried said. ``When I watch him, I sense more urgency from him than I did early on. ... It just seems like he's a lot more involved in everything.''

He also remains an unselfish player who doesn't dominate the ball and has taken at least 15 shots just five times all year, which seems to conflict with the expectations for an NBA prospect.

``There's times at Carolina - and I've never said this to him - I'm sitting here and I'm saying, `OK James Michael, it's time for you to take over now,''' said Ronnie McAdoo, James Michael's father who played at Old Dominion and professionally overseas. ``But he's never been that type of player.

``The most amazing thing is everybody criticizes him for being this low-key, not bang-bang-hit-you-in-the-chest guy, but it works for James Michael. He's been extremely successful with the way he plays.''

McAdoo, who turned 20 this month, was a McDonald's All-American who looked lost in primarily spot duty for much of his rookie season. But things changed when Henson's wrist injury thrust McAdoo into major minutes through the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

McAdoo blossomed and built confidence in March, ending with a team-high 15 points in the loss to Kansas in a regional final. He flirted with entering the draft before returning to school and the spotlight that awaited.

Michael Allen, McAdoo's high school coach at Norfolk Christian, said it's a place the soft-spoken McAdoo has never been comfortable.

``He wants to be one of the guys,'' Allen said. ``He wants to show up and do his job and go home. That's just his personality. You're not going to change it. Part of you wishes he was just a little meaner ... but at the same time that's just his makeup. It is what it is. I don't consider it a weakness. That's just the way God made him.''

Still, McAdoo knows he can do more and he's determined to tune out any outside chatter that says otherwise. On Wednesday night, that meant sticking around the Smith Center to shoot extra free throws after going 4-for-10 against Georgia Tech.

That mindset was good enough to get him here. He believes it can take him further.

``Coming in knowing that I was going to play big minutes, I think that's something I really had to prepare for mentally this summer,'' McAdoo said. ``But nothing could really help me other than going out there and playing it. We still have so much more room for improvement, me personally and as a team. I'm very confident with where I am right now and I'm happy with where I am right now.''

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NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

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USA TODAY Sports

NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Atlantic Division...

Toronto Raptors, B+

2017-18 finish: 59-23, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Kawhi Leonard, G Danny Green, C Greg Monroe
Out: G DeMar DeRozan, C Jakub Poeltl, C Lucas Nogueira

The Raptors had one of the more consequential offseasons of any NBA team this year. First, they fired Dwane Casey, the 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year, following a season in which they won 59 games. Then, they pulled off the biggest trade of the summer, a deal that featured two perennial All-NBA players. They let go of DeRozan and brought in Leonard in return. If they hadn't parted with DeRozan and Casey, they may have gotten an A. But it's hard to tell how much better they will be following the deal and Leonard does bring with him some concerns based on his quadriceps injury and the fact he has only one year left on his contract. The Raptors do, however, also get points for re-signing point guard Fred VanVleet.

Boston Celtics, C

2017-18 finish: 55-27, conference finals
In: C Robert Williams, G Brad Wanamaker
Out: C Greg Monroe

One year ago, the Celtics flipped nearly their entire roster and brought in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. This year, they mostly stood pat and didn't add much of anything in free agency or trades. Their biggest acquisition was Williams, who they took 27th overall in the first round of the draft. The Celtics will hope they improve from within. They re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes, and should get Irving and Hayward back from injuries. They should have plenty of talent to compete for an NBA Finals berth, but as far as this offseason goes, they didn't do much.

Philadelphia 76ers, D+

2017-18 finish: 52-30, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Wilson Chandler, C Mike Muscala, G Zhaire Smith, G Landry Shamet
Out: G Marco Belinelli, F Ersan Ilyasova

Where do we begin? This summer was about as dramatic and bad as it could get for the Sixers. First, they had to fire their general manager because of a burner Twitter account scandal. Then, they struck out miserably in free agency with LeBron James and Paul George, and in trade talks for Leonard. After that, Smith - their first round pick - hurt his foot. And along the way, Ben Simmons has been dating a Kardashian, flirting with the curse that has claimed many pro athletes before him. Philly did re-sign J.J. Redick and Johnson, and the Chandler trade was nice, but all in all it was an offseason that fell way short of the Sixers' expectations. That said, they can still get way better next season based solely on their young players taking another step.

New York Knicks, B

2017-18 finish: 29-53, missed playoffs
In: F Mario Hezonja, F Kevin Knox, F Noah Vonleh, C Mitchell Robinson
Out: F Michael Beasley, G Jarrett Jack, F Kyle O'Quinn

It's been a while since the Knicks had an offseason to write home about and this one is no exception. There was nothing they did that would flirt with an A-grade. However, the early returns on their draft are excellent. Knox and Robinson were both standouts in the Summer League and offer fans a little bit more hope about the team's future. As long as Kristaps Porzingis can return this season safe and sound from his ACL tear, the Knicks could take a step forward in 2018-19.

Brooklyn Nets, C+

2017-18 finish: 28-54, missed playoffs
In: F Ed Davis, F Kenneth Faried, F Jared Dudley
Out: F Dante Cunningham, G Nik Stauskas, C Jahlil Okafor

The best news about the Nets' offseason is that their trade with the Celtics, the one that stripped them of years of first round picks, is finally over. Next year, the Nets will have a first round pick. This summer, they once again didn't add any major pieces in the draft, but seemed to make some smart moves in free agency. The Davis deal is solid and Faried may benefit from a change of scenery. More baby steps for Brooklyn.

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Dmitry Orlov dazzles his hometown of Novokuznetsk with the Stanley Cup

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USA Today Sports

Dmitry Orlov dazzles his hometown of Novokuznetsk with the Stanley Cup

Friday featured Dmitry Orlov and his jam-packed schedule with the coveted Stanley Cup.

The 27-year-old native of Russia decided to take the Cup to Novokuznetsk (located in the southwest region of Siberia) for a meet and greet with fans by the Ferris wheel at Gagarin City Park.

It should be mentioned that Orlov's day with the trophy was nearly derailed after a travel glitch that sent the Cup to Novosibirsk instead of his hometown. 

Thanks to the ultimate assist from a helicopter, the Cup arrived in style and set up one memorable entrance for the defenseman. 

Orlov released this hype video which highlights his entire day on Instagram: 

Дорогие друзья! Огромное спасибо, что разделили с нами наш праздник! Для нас это значимое и большое событие! Ещё раз приносим искренние извинения за задержку с кубком! И спасибо за понимание, мы старались сделать все максимально быстро! Спасибо за тёплый приём! Нашим родным, друзьям, тренерам, отдельная благодарность! Вы сделали наш праздник, наш день! Мы никогда не забудем этот праздник! P.S. Лена @govor_elena , тебе и твоим родным, отдельная благодарность, если бы не ваша помощь, то не известно когда бы кубок был в Новокузнецке!

A post shared by Dmitry Orlov (@orlov_09) on

Talk about a banner weekend for the Washington Capitals. The Ovechkins welcomed their new son, Sergei Aleksandrovich, into the world and Orlov pulled off yet another spectacular day with the Cup.

 

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