Three Things: Carolina basketball summer updates
1. Remember last summer, when Leslie McDonald was drawing raves from his teammates? Everyone close to Carolina basketball said the Memphis native was likely to be the breakout player of the 2011-12 season, but then McDonald tore his ACL over the summer and was lost for the entire year.
Here we are, a year later, and the buzz is building about McDonald again. He's back playing pickup with his teammates and has been impressive. Asked about Dexter Strickland's recovery from a similar torn ACL, Reggie Bullock just smiled. "I hope Dexter comes back like Leslie, because Leslie has been shooting lights out," Bullock said. "His game has expanded so much. He's knocking the three-ball down, he's getting to the basket, he's doing all those things and getting his game back fluid like it was."
2. New NCAA legislation allowing coaches a maximum of two hours per day and eight hours per week to work with players has been beneficial during the first session of summer school (it was that rule that allowed Roy Williams to watch this week's basketball camp game, whereas in years past he would've had to hear about it secondhand; the camp game is a head-to-head battle between current players and alums that was won this week by the alums, with the second installment coming later this month). But it will be even more helpful beginning next week, when the four-player class of incoming freshmen arrive and enroll for the second session. That's when the coaches can begin working with them.
The Carolina head coach said Thursday his freshman class will be even more important--and play more minutes--because of Carolina's NBA defections. He'll get an early gauge of their abilities over the summer. "It's healthy for our game," Williams said. "When those guys get here next week, the fact that they can be even more involved is even more positive. I think Marcus (Paige) is really good. But I'll have an even better feel when he's out there with Leslie and James Michael (McAdoo)."
3. The LED boards on the facade of the Smith Center upper deck have been ripped out and will be replaced by newer boards. That's the most notable of the offseason improvements for the Smith Center, with updated and more vibrant LED technology to enhance the game experience.