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A 'big rascal who's gotten a lot less big'

North Carolina fans have gotten used to a lot of, shall we say, leaner guys in the post the past couple years.

But entering summer school at 260 pounds, freshman forward Joel James will add a bit of bulk to the block this season. That's after losing 50 pounds over the the past 18 months.

He told Aaron Beard of The Associated Press that his weight loss will help him better adjust to UNC's fast-paced style:

“That was a big part of motivating me,” James said. “Obviously going to a school like Carolina, if you’re not in shape and can’t run, you don’t play. I felt to get the best opportunity to play as a freshman, I have to get in the best shape I can.”

At a recent summer news conference, UNC coach Roy Williams called James “a big rascal who’s gotten a lot less big.”

“He’s got a load, there’s no question,” Williams said. “When he whacks you, you’re going to know you’ve been hit. And we’ve got a tremendous need for size. I think he can do some good things for us.”

The Tar Heels certainly hope so. With last season's starting forwards, Tyler Zeller and John Henson, now playing in the NBA, there are plenty of minutes to be had in the frontcourt. Sophomore James Michael McAdoo is penciled into one starting position, with sophomore Desmond Hubert, freshman Brice Johnson and James competing for back-up time and the other slot.

James told The AP he thinks his wide body should serve him well:

“I came out at the right time, to be honest,” James said. “A lot of players, their bodies aren’t fully developed as freshmen, and I think mine is. It’s going to be good playing against other freshmen when I’m already bigger and stronger than them.”