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In the ramp up to the 2012-13 basketball season, the Tar Heel Blog will be profiling key Tar Heels who will likely be major contributors this season. Today’s profile looks at guard Leslie McDonald.
Position: Wing Guard
Weight: 210 lbs
Year: Junior (RS)
2011-12 Stats: DNP
Career Stats: 70 gms, 5.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.4 spg, 33.1 3FG%, 70.5 FT%
What Happened Last Season
McDonald missed the entire season recovering from an off-season ACL injury. Despite the injury, he was able to to elevate the "Jump Around" pregame dance, originally started by Danny Green, to a new level of artistry.
Outlook for this season
Any projections for Leslie McDonald season must be taken with a huge grain of salt. When we last saw McDonald in uniform, he had established himself as a solid perimeter defender and Carolina's best, albeit still somewhat streaky, threat from beyond the arc. But that was almost two years ago, and he has not played a competitive college basketball game since. The reports out of this summer's NC ProAm indicated that McDonald was playing at a very high level; but again, the difference between Summer League ball and competition in the ACC is great, so all we can really take from this news is that McDonald's knee is completely healthy. Looking forward to the 2012-13 season, UNC would be very well served if McDonald can reestablish himself in the role he seemed to master towards the end of the 2011 season (3-point gunner off the bench).
Rust. It should be safe to assume that McDonald will have few limitations physically, but re-acclimating to the speed of high level college basketball may take some time. In some ways, McDonald's progression this season may be similar to that of a freshman, with the version we see in March being much more advanced than what we see in November.
18-20 mpg, 110.0 ORtg, 8.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 45.0 FG%, 40.0 3FG%
McDonald shot 38.1% from beyond the arc during his sophomore season, so assuming that he can shake the rust off sooner rather than later, expecting him to shoot 40% or better may not be that unreasonable. However, a more important improvement that will be needed to elevate his game is consistency inside the the arc. McDonald hit only 39.3 of his 2-point field goals in 2011, leading to an overall FG% under 40.0. Improving his 2-point shooting to closer to 50% will make McDonald a much more complete offensive threat, and should elevate him to being one of the Heels most efficient scorers.