James, what's this whole process been like for you so far?
It's been amazing. Just a blessing from God to come out here. This is my first showing coming out here in front of all of the NBA personnel and getting up and down the floor with all of these great athletes. Today was a dream come true but I'm also one step closer to my dream and that's to play in the NBA. It felt good to come out here and get my feet wet, so to speak.
What do you think you showed the NBA teams out here today?
Just really trying to be versatile. I'm one of the guys in the big man group that can put the ball on the floor, shoot the ball off the dribble and create for my other teammates -- especially at my position. Going up against bigger guys I feel like I have an advantage.
What teams have you spoken to so far and do you have any interviews lined up?
I spoke with the Los Angeles Clippers yesterday, Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards today and Orlando Magic on Friday. And, up until the draft, getting my individual workouts in. I'm really looking forward to those. Just getting this process started.
What's the feedback been like from NBA teams so far?
Definitely huge upside. They feel like I had three great years at UNC but my best basketball is ahead of me playing in the NBA. They're really looking for me to show my skillset and really just improving my game proving that I can knock down the jump shot and defend multiple positions and stuff like that.
Why the decision to leave now? You have a great team coming back, Marcus Paige coming back. Why this year?
Tough decision. I've had to make that decision the last two years. North Carolina, it's my everything. I met my wife there, my best friends are there. But at the end of the day I had to do what's best for James Michael. I'm excited for this opportunity and it's a dream come true, like I said before. I had three great years there, but at the end of the day, it's time for me to take that next step in my career.
How do you think North Carolina helped develop you and put you in this position to succeed now?
Obviously playing for Roy Williams and the coaching staff there, they put guys in the NBA every year. That was the reason I went there, to really become part of something bigger than me. Playing for Carolina and the legacy that of course goes with that. Just having an opportunity each year to compete for a national championship and ACC championship. Coach taught me a lot about the game, he's a Hall of Fame coach. I was just blessed to play in his system.
What's your relationship like with your teammates as you go through this process?
It's been huge having so many of my former teammates that are playing in the NBA and that have played through this process -- just being able to learn from them. Take everything as far as wisdom that they have to give to me in terms of what teams look for and the draft combine and individual workouts. It's definitely been huge and I'm definitely taking that on the court out there.
Is there anyone in particular that you're speaking to that's really helping you through all of this?
A couple guys that also signed to my agency, Tandem. Guys like Marvin Williams, who's a guy I try to emulate a little bit with the way I play, Deon Thompson, who has also gone through all of this, and also more recently guys that I played with my freshman year like John Henson and especially Kendall Marshall. I've played with Kendall since we were in middle school, he's one of my best friends. So just being able to talk to those guys and get advice from them is great.
What's your family support been like through this?
It's been huge. Both of my parents played professional ball overseas. My Dad went through this process in the NBA but ended up getting cut by the Atlanta Hawks. My Dad's second cousin, who I call my uncle, Bob McAdoo, is in the Hall of Fame. Just having such a legacy in my own family when it comes to basketball. They know what this means to me and they've been so supportive the whole way here.
Was there a moment when you believed you could be a pro?
My freshman year, towards the end of that freshman year when I really started to blossom and I came off the bench the entire year and then John Henson went down and I had a chance to step in the starting lineup and the hype was real. I was projected to go lottery and everything like that. So I knew after my freshman year, like, man, this dream of playing in the NBA and being a professional basketball player is something I could do and here I am two years later looking to keep that dream alive.
A year or two ago you were a potential lottery pick and you've fallen a bit in mock drafts, do you have any regrets about maybe going higher in the draft in the past?
At the end of the day, I'm not going to regret that because I made that decision and I'm going to live with it. At the end of day if I'm good enough to play in the NBA, I'll play in the NBA.
How difficult was it to stay those two years knowing where your name was in mock drafts?
It wasn't hard at all, man. I can honestly say that. It was a decision that I made (snaps fingers) just like that and I knew that it was time for me to come back after that year. And this year, I knew it was time for me to leave. I didn't waste any time making that decision and once I made that decision I didn't look back once.
Is there one thing this year that helped make up your mind to enter the draft as opposed to year's past?
I think the biggest thing was my confidence. That's something that I struggled with when I first got to Carolina and ever since then I've been working on it. I feel like my confidence is at an all-time high now. Coming out here and having my first tryout so-to-speak, I feel very confident.
When you look back and reflect on your career at Carolina, what kinds of thoughts go through your head?
Great opportunities. I won a championship as far as the ACC goes. I always wish I could have won that national championship. We had a great chance my freshman year. Things didn't go our way and we had a bad break, but at the end of the day, it was a great experience on and off the court.
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