As the buzzer sounds, the players all stroll onto the floor for the tip of the game. Hands are shaken, smiles are exchanged, the ref approaches the jump circle with the ball. The toss goes into the air -- and it's time.
Time for Rashad McCants to convert himself into the warrior. Time for him to change personalities. It's game time.
No more smiles, no more hand shakes, this guy is now a killer. He hates the other team, his intensity is now that of the wildest guy in the mosh pit of a RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE concert. He's ready.
A defender on the perimeter is in McCants personal space. The 6-3 forward mumbles some words to the defender. You probably wouldn't want to know what he said, and I probably couldn't write it anyway. As the ball makes it around to the focal point of the Charlotte Royals' offense, McCants explodes past the defender, into the paint, defenders swarm him. Taller defenders, bigger defenders, smaller defenders.
Then it happens.
McCants, somehow, rises up, above the swarm and throws down a strong two-handed dunk. He hangs on the rim for a couple of seconds and releases a scream -- straight out of "Psycho." A scream full of emotion, full of hate and full of "come get some."
Welcome to Rashad's world.
A world where he backs down to no one, a world where he is the king of bringin' it. A world where he intimidates foes with his mere stares, his jacked physique and his sneaky comments.
Back to the game, McCants brings the ball up the floor against pressure, his handle is so-so, but he got the ball past half court. He points his teammates into place. Not necessarily a set play, but it's where Rashad wants them to be. And you better believe they listen to Rashad. He passes off to the point guard, Wake Forest commitment Justin Gray.
McCants goes down to the high post. The high post? Isn't he a guard? It doesn't matter -- call him a guard, call him a forward, call him a freak of nature. This is Rashad.
He posts up the 6-7 defender. The ball gets fed to him, as he clears out the long-limbed defender with his strength and determination, we all know he's about to make fool soup outta this clown.
Look at the defenders face -- you can see the hesitation, you can see the uncertainty, and you can see that he KNOWS he's about to get smoked.
McCants quickly spins towards the hoop, leaving the petrified defender behind. Rise, rise, rise -- Boom! You got it -- another monster jam. Another growl, another scream of rage. Another two points.
On defense, the Asheville, N.C. native is strong, quick, relentless and versatile. He talks, he barrells through screens, he boxes out, he leaps high for rebounds and he holds his defensive position on the low block -- even if the defender is twice his size.
Once the ball rolls off the rim, the rebound is his. I don't even need to look to see, I can just put another slash in his rebounding column in my notes.
Back on the offensive side, McCants hangs out on the arc while Gray slashes into the lane, the ball gets passed around a few times on the interior, but no one has anything open -- so they kick it out to McCants, still standing just behind the three-point-line.
The next trip down, McCants drills another three-ball from the top of the key. He was again, wide open. As he runs back down the court he flashes his vibrant, cocky smile to the coaches who were there to watch and evaluate him.
Eyebrows are raising all over the sidelines. Matt Doherty's were the most noticeable. The Tar Heel head coach offered him a scholarship later that week -- and the rest is history.
Welcome to Chapel Hill, Rashad.
******Check out IC's Rashad McCants Profile for full coverage of the future Tar Heel with photos, analysis, interviews and video clips.