James Michael McAdoo doesn’t care what you think.
He was crowned by USA Basketball before stepping foot on a college court, heralded as the next savior of North Carolina basketball.
But lust quickly turned to disgust, and just as quickly as he was worshipped, he was scorned by fans and scrutinized by analysts.
Chants of ‘overrated’ echo through hostile arenas, and hushed tones of doubt infiltrate the crowd on his home turf.
Draft experts slashed his worth from a top-three pick to second round at best in three years. But McAdoo can’t hear any of it.
He blocks it out. He has to. It’s the only way to stay sane and preserve the fleeting moments of a childhood rapidly evaporating as a professional career looms.
He maintains a private life — no Twitter, private Instagram, restricted Facebook. People see only the McAdoo that he wants them to see, which, until recently, was a stone-faced, emotionless power forward.
He’s transformed beneath their laser-like gaze.
From barely averaging six points a game in his freshman year to becoming a leader for UNC on and off the court.
Coming into tonight’s game against Duke, McAdoo has all but left his former self behind. He’s averaging 15 points a game and playing with an intensity that embodies a sense of urgency coach Roy Williams begs from his players.
But there’s more to him than steals and dunks, botched free throws and silky close-range jump shots.
He’s a dog lover who owns a cat. He’s a goofball, known around the team for his corny jokes. He’s a compassionate man, grounded in his faith.
But above all else, he’s a 21-year-old kid just playing a game he loves.