April 14, 2005
Am I shocked that Rashad McCants has declared for the NBA draft? Absolutely not!
Actually, I'm shocked the North Carolina star stayed three years. Yes, I'm talking about McCants, baby, the junior guard who helped lead the Tar Heels to the 2005 national championship!
McCants is the one UNC player I thought would've been gone after his freshman or sophomore year. Instead, he bought into coach Roy Williams' theory of winning and being part of a team.
And there's no question, McCants was a vital part of the team. His scoring was big there would be no '05 championship banner to fly high without the offensive productivity of the 6-foot-4 guard. For the season, he averaged 16 points per game. Yes, he has been moody and has had his problems, but he tried to blend in and change his attitude.
At Wednesday's news conference announcing his decision, McCants said that he will hire an agent and if he does, he won't be able to change his mind and return to school for his senior year.
You can't be shocked he declared. The question is, with all that has been written about his little attitude problems, where will he be drafted? McCants is certainly multidimensional he can shoot and can get out on transition. He can be a positive contributor on the NBA level.
Now coach Williams and Tar Heels fans must be wondering: What about juniors Raymond Felton and Sean May and diaper dandy Marvin Williams? Will they also move on to the NBA?
My gut feeling is that Felton is gone but that somehow May will find a way to return. As Jim Valvano, my buddy and former ESPN colleague, used to say, "Never mess with happiness."
My gut feeling is that Felton is gone but that somehow May will find a way to return.
If a student-athlete is happy and loves being a kid, the NBA and the money will still be there. It didn't hurt Tim Duncan and Grant Hill to stay in college for four years.
One thing we know about UNC is that the Heels will simply reload. The great name, the magical touch and the visibility will make it easy for North Carolina. The recruiting staff brings in one stellar class after another.
Look out next season for recruits like forward Tyler Hansbrough and guard Bobby Fraser, who will become factors in the rotation. The Tar Heels will remain a vital part of the NCAA scene as they defend their national title.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.