Author's Note: I wrote this on Friday night but shelved it until today. I wanted to highlight some new information that casts the following in a slightly different light. A report has surfaced that James McAdoo has withdrawn from Norfolk Christian Academy which would seem to indicate he is leaning heavily towards early enrollment at UNC. Carry on.
A couple of items to serve as framework for James McAdoo's potential decision to attend UNC a year early. First up, the Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler spoke with McAdoo's father Ronnie about the decision. Basically, McAdoo only has one class to complete to graduate and that can be done online. The NBA is not a factor in the decision but rather the departure of the Wears opened up an opportunity which caused McAdoo to consider the early jump.
SI.com's Luke Winn also took up McAdoo's decision saying it could be the start of a trend among elite high school players.
McAdoo would be the face of a growing trend that, as Ballin' Is A Habit's Rob Dauster wrote this week, has confused the hoops world. No one knows entirely what to make of it yet. Is this rush to college a good or bad thing for the prospects? Will it become so prevalent -- or exploited -- that the NCAA will feel the need to pass legislation mandating at least four years of high school before playing college hoops? Should we bemoan the players' loss of priceless senior-year memories? Even Ronnie McAdoo has some hesitations about it, saying, "The negative of James leaving would be that we'd be losing our son a year earlier, which we'd hate to happen. But I want James to make the decision that's right for him."
The history of this sort of decision goes back to well before even Dawkins and Hackett. When I wrote, in a recruiting-period roundup story last week, that early entry high schoolers were on "Trend Watch," a few readers e-mailed to remind me that the true trailblazer on this route was actually Mike Gminski, who enrolled at Duke as a 17-year-old in 1976 after graduating from his Connecticut high school in three years. Gminski was averaging a double-double as a Blue Devils freshman in February 1977 when The Washington Post profiled him with a story headlined, "Gminski No Longer Is Bored."
The comparison to Giminski is an apt one. Both players were such good students and elite players, staying in school another year would purely be an exercise in being a senior in high school. The question McAdoo is weighing is whether he wants to surrender all the fun and frills that goes with your final year of high school or get a jump on college which by extension is about developing for the NBA. The question Winn raises is whether this is a trend we should be worried about. Possibly but in the case of McAdoo the answer is a resounding "no."
During a week when the No. 1 obsession in the college hoops media is the high school transcript of former Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe, and whether it was possible for him to go from a 1.9 GPA at the end of his junior year to a 2.5 by graduation, it doesn't seem reasonable to fret about the future of a high school junior with a 3.9 GPA and a desire to expedite his final core courses in a transparent fashion. There's a reason a wave of elite prep stars with NBA potential didn't follow the Gminski route between 1976 and 2010: It required exceptional skills in the classroom more than it did on the court. If McAdoo can make the jump, we shouldn't worry about him. We should praise him.
McAdoo has his act together in every conceivable way and Winn is correct. If he is able to make this move and that is his choice it should be celebrated not criticized.