Okay, I made that last part up.
Redshirt junior guard Leslie McDonald met with the media today to discuss his rehab from a torn ACL last summer. Inside Carolina and Robbi Pickeral have rundowns. Here are the highlights.
-McDonald says he is 100% healthy and is not experiencing any pain his knee. As a precaution he has continued some rehab activities such as stretching but overall he thinks his knee is back to normal.
-As for his play, McDonald does not think he has lost any quickness or explosiveness. He is doing all the things he did before and does not wear a brace on the knee.
-During the NCAA Tournament, McDonald was around 80% and playing was a possibility but the decision to redshirt had already been finalized. Besides that McDonald did not see a point in wasting a year over two games.
-A new NCAA rule allows coaches to work with their teams in limited practices. UNC is doing so but with only eight scholarship players so it is mostly drills and four-on-four scrimmages.
-What was McDonald's biggest takeaway from being injured? He focused on his shooting mechanics since he was unable to run and jump.
-McDonald plans to play some in the NC Pro-Am but not as much as he did last season. He chalked up his ACL tear to "freak accidents happen."
In addition to talking about his knee injury, McDonald gave a preview of next season.
Although the Tar Heels lost four-fifths of their starting lineup to graduation and early entry into the NBA draft, McDonald, who has inherited a leadership role along with senior Dexter Strickland, is confident in the players coming back and the freshmen coming in.
“I feel like a lot of people are doubting us, but I feel like we’re going to be a good team,’’ he said. “We’re going to be an up-tempo team; we’re going to be very defensive-minded, and up-and-down, and guard-oriented.”
Reading McDonald's comments both in these articles and when they were live tweeted by members of the media, it was clear he is very confident about his game and next year's team. It is also obvious McDonald is very motivated to have a huge impact on next season. He believes his game has arrived and with the mass exodus from the 2012 team, there is an opportunity to be seized.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out as far as the lineup goes. Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo are locks at the two forward positions. The other three slots are up in the air, but McDonald is clearly stating his case to be the other starter on the wing. If McDonald comes back as a solid three point shooter(37-40%) alongside Reggie Bullock, UNC will be in great shape.
McDonald's decision to play in the NC Pro-Am is no doubt going to invite some hand wringing from UNC fans and I am not sure anyone is wrong for feeling that way. Yes, logically speaking there is little to no difference between McDonald playing in those games at NCCU and going at in pick-up games at the Dean Dome. However, UNC recent experience with injuries is making everyone a little crazy. McDonald did say it would only be a "couple of games" and I would venture that McDonald probably approaches those games with more caution than he would a game during the season.
Roy Williams annual summer press conference is scheduled for next week.