Upon walking in the gym, the future UNC forward was easily spotted sitting in the bottom row of the bleachers decked out in Carolina blue. He was sporting a Carolina t-shirt and practice shorts, along with his untied Timberland boots.
Before the first game started, McCants took the opportunity to shoot around and loosen up a bit. He launched a lot of deep three pointers, shooting them from about 22-26 feet and hitting most of them.
You're not J.J. Redick, I chuckled. "No -- I'm further along than that," he answered quickly.
As his team took the floor in the second game of the evening, against the host Fork Union squad, McCants approached the jump circle for his team. After winning the tip, McCants went to work on the low block. He was guarded by Shawn Harris, an underrated 6-4, 210-pound swingman who's bound for Virginia Tech next season. Given the fact that Harris was about the same size as McCants, I figured it to be a good matchup.
But this would not be McCants day. He drove the lane on a few occasions in the first half, but couldn't connect on a few short shots in the crowded lane. He also launched a few three pointers, connecting on one in the half. He picked up a couple of cheap fouls in the first half and spent a considerable amount of time on the bench watching his team get further behind.
"I had a bad game," McCants said postgame. "I know that I just wasn't doing my normal things and I think that affected me a little."
In the second half, McCants returned with the same ho-hum attitude. Things weren't going his way offensively, and he was fouled on a few occasions down low -- but the refs refused to make the calls. McCants used his physical strength, quickness and intimidation to gather up a few steals, knock some balls loose and block a couple of shots, however, as his offense just wasn't there.
Late in the second half, with New Hampton down by ten, McCants found some offense. He hit a driving runner, nailed a three-ball and had one particularly awesome play.
This play, which happened with only three minutes left in the game, seemed to light that infamous McCants fire. He grabbed an offensive rebound in traffic and cleared the lane with a loud two-handed thunder dunk. And for extra credit -- McCants threw in the primal scream, the intense face and even head-butted the ball after it went threw the net and bounced off the floor.
Even the fans of Fork Union -- the cadets -- screamed in enjoyment for McCants' jam.
After the play, his teammates ran up to him to chest bump the warrior. Bad idea. McCants knocked them around like pinballs -- one by one. And some of his teammates were bigger than him -- which just shows how strong McCants is.
"I think the dunk and the cadets cheering against me at the free throw line was actually what got me back into the game," McCants said. "I like all that stuff. It pumps me up."
McCants' teammates seemed to try and match their leader's intensity after that dunk as they went on to win the game by a 70-67 clip. McCants ended the game with only 11 points, but had 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks -- and was the spark plug for the late game comeback.
While McCants struggled on Friday night, he brought his "A" game the following evening. New Hampton took down the powerful Hargrave squad on Saturday in the Fork Union Invitational title game, 84-77, led by McCants' 31 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists.
(Check back on Tuesday morning for the second half of IC's coverage of Rashad McCants at the FUMA Invitational, as McCants answers the questions submitted by IC message board posters. )