You see it in the lateral quickness as he cuts off passing lanes
You see it in the acceleration as he flies up court.
You see it in the explosiveness with which he gets by defenders off the dribble.
You see it in his pogo-stick like leaps for blocks, rebounds and alley-oop finishes.
Thus, the foundation is in place and the skills are progressing.
First and foremost, he's playing the small forward spot because that's what his high school team needs from him.
"We've got some post kids that are decent and we have some solid guards," Norfolk Christian head coach Michael Allen said. "We have to rely on James to get out on the wing."
Yet it also fits what his future college coach projects. Roy Williams forecasts McAdoo as a versatile forward on the college level.
"I've talked to Coach Williams," Allen explained, "and he's said, ‘Coach, he's yours, do what you've got to do with him.' And I said, ‘But it's also my job to try and get him ready for the next level. What do you need?' And he said, ‘Well, we see James as one of those types of kids like [Duke's Kyle] Singler that can go in and out, handle the ball a bit, shoot the three and post him up against mismatches.'
"So we've tried to emulate some of those things and that's going to be for the better of his development when he gets to the next level."
Comparing a future Tar Heel to a current Blue Devil?
"I definitely model my game after him," McAdoo said, "but I want to take it a step further.
"I try not to just stay on the wing – I try to get inside, too. Coach Allen is helping me develop my skills for when I go to Carolina. Down the road I'll probably have to play some at the three, so I have to be able to play both (forward positions)."
McAdoo reached new heights this summer. He was the top performer on the gold-medal-winning USA U16 National Team, finishing the 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship second on the team in scoring and leading the squad in rebounding, blocks, steals and field goal percentage. He made such a strong impression on the USA Basketball program that he was named the 2009 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year, making him the youngest recipient in the 30-year history of the award.
However, from there his development hit a roadblock. He suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder in his final game playing with Team USA and spent several months off the court. In other words, McAdoo (including his 26 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks and five steals) was not at full speed at the Chick-fil-A Classic this week.
"I definitely think I'm a little bit rusty," McAdoo said. "I'm trying to get my game wind back up, get my mechanics back down and get my mental part of the game set."
Allen added, "He's still trying to get his legs back under him. He's still a little out of shape because he didn't get as much conditioning and running in the preseason. We had to hold him out of a lot of contact drills early on. In my opinion he's still not back to 100 percent yet.
"Before he got hurt, his conditioning was perhaps the best it's ever been, but unfortunately he had about three months where he couldn't do anything and slowly he's gotten back in the swing of things. He's not quite there – but he's almost there."
Getting there requires hard work, something McAdoo welcomes, according to his coach.
"His confidence is through the roof," Allen said. "His mid-range game has really improved. The thing I'm impressed with is his humble demeanor – he just goes out and works hard every day.
"He understands that he needs to get bigger and stronger to play in the ACC. It's a grind every game, no matter who you're playing, and Carolina being a premier program they're going to play the best of everybody. He definitely has to get in the weight room and commit to getting stronger and he's done that. He's really increased his bench and his squat."
McAdoo added, "I've been hitting the weight room, trying to get a stronger upper body so I can finish plays over the top. I'm trying to work on handling the ball, and most importantly working on my defense – being able to guard more than one position, because I'll probably have to also guard a three man on the next level."
That next level begins in 18 months. In the meantime, he'll continue to work and his game will continue to develop.
"It's been a dream, knowing that I'm going to Carolina," said McAdoo, who will turn 17 next month. "It's not added pressure, I just go out there and try to represent my team and Carolina basketball at the same time."