McCants Going Pro

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - There was no surprise. North Carolina junior swingman Rashad McCants confirmed what was already widely expected; he will forego his senior season and make himself available for the NBA Draft in June. Joined by his parents and UNC coach Roy Williams, McCants met with the media at the Smith Center on Wednesday.

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"I just wanted to start out by saying I'm going to give up my college eligibility to enter the NBA draft," McCants said to begin the press conference. "I just want to thank Carolina for giving me the opportunity to play basketball. I have a lot of memories here with my teammates and they will truly be missed.

"I'm not going to give up my education; I will still be attending Carolina during the summer."

McCants averaged 16.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists this past season, while converting three-pointers at a 42.3 percent clip.

"I think he'll be remembered not as people perceived him, but as a person who helped us win a national championship," Roy Williams said. "I'll remember him as a basketball player and a nice young man.

"I am in complete support of Rashad's decision, and I will be for the rest of his career and his life."

ESPN Insider currently projects McCants as a late first-round selection and ranks him the seventh best shooting guard in the draft.

"I just want to congratulate Coach Williams for winning a national championship and I hope he gets the opportunity to win another one," Rashad's father, James McCants, said. "I hated that Rashad is not going to be around for another year, but he's reached a plateau so to speak. I hope he goes on to have a great career."

Fellow junior Tar Heel Sean May, who is currently considering entering the NBA Draft, said: "I think it's a good decision and I'm happy for him. It's just his tenacity once he gets the ball ... his individual scoring moves are the best in the country. He can do so many things -- post smaller guys and bigger guys. He can take them off the dribble and shoot."


Rashad McCants

Opening Remarks
"I just wanted to start by saying that I'm going to give up my college eligibility and enter the NBA draft. I'm not going to give up my college education; I will still be attending the University of North Carolina and [I will continue my education] all through summer school, but I just wanted to thank the University of North Carolina for giving me the opportunity to play basketball. I have a lot of memories here and with my teammates and all the people I've come to love and all the people that care about me. And it will truly be missed."

On how he notified the team about his decision
"It really wasn't a team notification. My whole purpose of this year was to come back and win a national championship and help a lot of my teammates become better players. And I think that whole goal was successful for making a lot of the guys on the team better basketball players, and we definitely reached our goal of winning a national championship. So I felt like my whole reason for coming back last year was to get those accomplished, and I did."

On what the final factor was in deciding to go pro
"If you really think of the legacies that college basketball has had in past years, as far as Carmelo Anthony and past guys who've won championships, and they felt like their deed in college had been done. I feel the same way as far as reaching my goals, going through up and downs in college basketball. I just think it's time for my family and me to go to the next level."

On what effect his decision may have on his teammates' decisions to stay or leave
"I think for my me and my teammates we're just going to do what's best for our families. Being in college is still tough on us financially because you don't get the things that your family needs. You definitely get what you need because the University takes care of you, but for everyone's family, it's kind of tough. So it's a financial decision as well."

On if he's hired an agent yet
"I haven't, but that's in the process."

On where he thinks he may go in the NBA draft
"I think for my teammates and I, we always speak of the college game not being for everyone, and there are certain players who are better college players than they are pro, and there are certain players that are better pro than they were college. I think from playing in college that I am definitely able to play in the organized basketball environment and in the NBA as far as being coachable and doing the things my coach asks for. In one aspect, the world is really open for me, and I can really do a lot of things out there especially on the NBA level."

On what he thinks draft night may be like
"Pretty much all my life [I've thought about it]. I think every kids dream, even if he doesn't know it, is to shake David Stern's hand and put on the hat. I think that is just more gratifying than anything, to know that I have a place and that I'm my own corporation, and I can do the things I want to do."

On if he's consulted any scouts to see where he may be drafted
"No, not at all. I feel like going to work outs and being presentable to the GMs, I can probably raise my own stock."

On how much he weighed the fact that his sister is coming to play for North Carolina next year and his promise to Coach Williams in his decision
"I thought about it a lot, and I really wanted my sister to have her own experience because I definitely had mine without her. I wouldn't want to be in her way, and I want her to enjoy her life and her experience in college by herself because it's going to be a tough, lonely time, and she has to fight through it and be strong enough to deal with it. As far as Coach, I definitely thought about it a lot and weighed in that a lot, but I think we both knew that four years was a stretch. And I would love to do so, but financially and for my parents and just for my passion to go to the next level, I think now is as good a time as any, especially now that we are on top."

On how it felt not being able to have his mother in St. Louis
"She was still there in St. Louis, definitely in spirit and in prayer. It's always breathtaking to have my mother sitting here. I had my whole career here in North Carolina, and I never got to see my mother as much as I wanted to; and I always have to tell my friends who are close to me that you never get to see me that much because I never get to see my mother that much and you can't be that privileged. I always wanted to keep my father and my mother first in my life; so now that I have to chance to keep them closer, it's a great opportunity for my family."

On his feelings on the NBA's proposed rule to have a 20 year old age limit to play
"Well I'm 20. I think that everyone has a pretty good point with the age limit, but at the same time the other side is pretty true as far as young kids being experienced enough to play especially when you look at all the superstars in the NBA who came straight out of high school and worked their way to the top. So I think it's really hard to say a kid can go to war at eighteen, but not go work for his family. I think that's a very tough decision for any youngster who needs to get out of the ghetto or the hood and make a life for himself and not selling drugs on the street. I think for some dreams the only way out is by playing basketball and making money, and I don't think society should take that from them."

On how much influence Michael Jordan has had on his decision
"I really haven't gotten any advice, but Mike probably doesn't know that when I first got here I wanted to follow his footsteps exactly as far as him being here for three years, winning a National Championship, and getting National Player of the Year; and those were the goals coming into my freshman year was do what Michael Jordan did. And last year, my decision to stay was probably the biggest decision for me was to try and continue to walk in those footsteps and do the exact same things that he's done. So I figured I need at least have something to say to Mike when I get up to him, and say `Hey, I stayed three years just like you, and I won a National Championship, just like you.' I think that was one of the more pleasing goals was to follow in his footsteps."

On if he would like play for the Chicago Bulls like Michael Jordan
"I'll play for anyone, really."

On finishing his career on top
"I think this year was my most focused and concentrated year ever in my life as far as getting this one goal accomplished. I wanted to everything in power as far as sacrificing my body, my soul, my heart, everything to win the championship. And I feel like I did just that, and our team went out there and played our hearts out. All year long, I've always said, if questions were asked if we were satisfied with the win or if we were satisfied with victory--I would always say that we can never be satisfied because we have so much more to accomplish. And now that we've won I can definitely sit back and take a deep breath and say `Yes, we're satisfied."

Brenda Muckelvene (Rashad's mother)

On her feelings
"I think he's well prepared. I'm smiling because he accomplished his goals, and that's what's most important -- that he worked to get here; and I'm proud of that."

James McCants (Rashad's father)

On what the last ten days have been like
"It's been quite overwhelming for me. I was in St. Louis; unfortunately Brenda wasn't able to make it. To see them cut down the nets was extremely rewarding. I need to congratulate Coach Williams on his first National Championship, and hopefully we can get him a few more before it's all over with. I hate it that Rashad's not going to be around for the next year, but as he said before, he's reached a plateau, and it's time for him to move on to bigger and better things. I hope he has the best career that he can possibly have."

Coach Roy Williams

On when Rashad told him about the decision
"Rashad and I started talking about it in January, and he did an amazing job of retaining his focus. And I think that is a great statement to what he did, and I think we did start talking about it, but he made the final decision. But I think again, this youngster sacrificed a lot of areas to help his team become more successful and that speaks volumes."

On his feelings
"Well human nature, it's a mixed bag because I'd love to coach guys for four years, but at the same time, I've said from day one that I think youngsters have to make the decision that's best for them individually. What's best for Rashad, may not be what's best for someone else. I'll always deal with my players that I want what they want. I'll give them advice if I think it's a bad decision; I'll give them advice, but I'll still support them. With Rashad, I think it's a good decision. There's no question that our basketball team would be better if everyone stayed for four years and would be better if Rashad's staying, but it's not what all coaching is all about."

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