Bullock to leave UNC, McAdoo stays
A wild Tuesday ended with North Carolina losing its team MVP but keeping its only proven frontcourt player.
Junior Reggie Bullock announced he was declaring for the NBA draft early in the day, and then received the inaugural Dean Smith Most Valuable Player Award at the team banquet Tuesday night.
Immediately after the banquet, sophomore James Michael McAdoo announced he would return to school for another season, turning down the chance to be a first-round pick for the second straight year.
Both players were named second-team All-ACC this past season. McAdoo averaged 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds, while Bullock averaged 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds.
“There will certainly be a time when I want to play in the NBA,” McAdoo said in a statement. “But right now, I truly enjoy college life and I want to continue doing that for another season.”
McAdoo, who also led the team in steals with 54, was projected to be taken between 19th and 24th on the mock drafts at CBS Sports, Draft Express and NBADraft.Net.
Coach Roy Williams said in a school release that he was “ecstatic” to coach McAdoo for another season.
“He’s an incredible young man who did some really nice things this year,” Williams said. “He’s going to be an even better player in the future.”
Bullock may be, as well, but it won’t be with the Tar Heels. The Kinston native became the 12th UNC player in nine seasons to turn professional before his senior year.
“I am ready to take the next step in my career,” Bullock said in a statement.
At 6-7, he has good size for a wing player and brings a versatile skill set — he shot a team-high 43.6 percent from 3-point range, plays solid defense and led the Tar Heels in rebounding in nine of their final 10 games after the team went to a smaller lineup.
“He was our most consistent player this season, was productive on both ends of the floor and gave us great leadership,” Williams said.
Still, he is not projected to be a first-round pick, which means he may not receive a guaranteed contract. Jeff McInnis in 1996 was the most recent underclassmen to leave UNC early and not get selected in the first round.
Financial considerations may have been a factor for Bullock, who is raising a young child. The junior has also struggled with chronic knee pain and underwent season-ending surgery two years ago.
“Our hope is that his decision will work out in a very positive manner for Reggie,” Williams said. “He has big dreams, and we will help him and support him in his efforts to reach those dreams. I’ll always enjoy reflecting on Reggie’s three seasons as a big part of our program.”
Leslie McDonald, who could take Bullock’s spot in the starting lineup, will be the only senior on the team next season.
Bullock spent the morning accepting congratulations from former teammates on Twitter.
Sophomore guard P.J. Hairston, who weighed leaving for the NBA before deciding this past week to return to UNC, wrote: “Some things are just meant to be at a certain time for certain people. … Congrats to my bro (Bullock) still my brother for life regardless. Follow your dream!”
Former UNC point guard Kendall Marshall, a member of Bullock’s recruiting class who turned pro after the 2011-12 season, wrote: “SO excited for (Bullock) being able to follow his dream. … Let the journey begin.”
Bullock didn’t reveal any more of his thought process over Twitter, though he did endorse something that was written to him. That message said: “Don’t listen to fans man this is your future and your life! Do what your heart and mind tell (you) to do.”
Bullock and starting shooting guard Dexter Strickland, who is graduating, will be the only two players leaving from this past season’s 25-11 team, which finished third in the ACC.
“I’m certainly looking forward to coaching P.J. and James Michael again,” Williams said. “They have grown a lot as young men in their first two years at Carolina and I expect them to be fantastic leaders for us next season.”
Bullock’s MVP award wasn’t the only honor given out at the team banquet. Freshman point guard Marcus Paige was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year and best defensive player, Hairston was named the most improved player, and former walk-on Jackson Simmons received the Marvin Williams Carolina Way Award, which goes to the player “who best exemplifies playing hard, being unselfish and thinking of the team first.”