Peach Jam: Rashad McCants
NORTH AUGUSTA, Ga. --
He won't enroll at Chapel Hill for another 13 months, but Rashad McCants is already very much a Tar Heel – if not UNC's honorary assistant coach.
"I'm proud to be a Tar Heel," McCants said. "I'm going to flaunt it around and let everyone know that Carolina is the place to be."
And he's made numerous recruiting pitches to UNC targets like Sean May, Shavlik Randolph and Torin Francis.
"Torin knows that it's going to be tough to play against me," McCants said. "So, for him it's better to be with me then against me."
McCants' versatility extends beyond his skills on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
"I like to be the coach's right hand," he said. "I'm a very vocal person and it makes me feel good when I'm leading the team."
And "very vocal" is an understatement. McCants shouts instructions and encouragement to his teammates, he barks at his opponents, and he screams when throwing down a big dunk.
His transformation at tip-off is something right out of a science fiction novel.
"It's like Dr Jekyl and Mr. Hyde," McCants said. "On the court I'm going to be all up in your face, but off the court, I'm anybody's friend."
That mentality has struck a real chord with Carolina target Shavlik Randolph.
"He'd be a guy I'd love to go to war with," Randolph said. "He's beaten me three straight years in the state [AAU] championship game, so if you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em, I guess …"
The biggest critics of McCants' potential on the college level cite his lack of height, as he's measured at 6-2 and ½ in bare feet. But McCants knows the way to overcome obstacles such as height.
"Play hard," he said. "Nobody can really stop you if you play hard – nobody can take that away from you."
Within 24 hours at the Peach Jam, McCants experienced both extremes on the court. He dominated – and was dominated.
On Thursday night, McCants put on one of the tournament's best performances, scoring 31 points and grabbing seven rebounds in a win over BABC.
To quote our postgame report: "He did EVERYTHING: attacking the hoop, the screaming monster dunk, an alley-oop, long-range threes (5-7 3pt), no-look passes, tearing away loose balls, lock-down defense, he won the opening tip over Francis - heck, he even mopped up a sweat spot on the floor!"
But on Friday night versus Team Select California, McCants was virtually non-existent.
Team Select's Bobby Jones shut down McCants. Jones, 6-6 with long arms, blanketed McCants at every turn, leaving the future Tar Heel clearly frustrated.
McCants' playing time was limited by foul trouble, ultimately fouling out, and he finished the evening with five points (only 1-4 FG, including 0-3 3pt and 3-6 FT), one rebound and three steals.
Afterwards, McCants refused to use his heavily-taped ankle as an excuse.
His averages after two days were 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and he shot about 50% from beyond the arc.