Kansas Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson and guard Tyshawn Taylor celebrate over North Carolina Tar Heels forward James Michael McAdoo after defeating the Tar Heels in the men's NCAA Midwest Regional basketball game in St. Louis

Did James Michael McAdoo return to school for the money?

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North Carolina got some big news on Thursday afternoon when freshman James Michael McAdoo announced his intention to return to school for his sophomore year.

McAdoo was an all-everything recruit coming out of Norfolk, VA. And while his freshman campaign wasn’t overly impressive, there was a reason for that: he was playing behind Tyler Zeller and John Henson, who may have been the two best big men in the ACC.

McAdoo did get a chance to play heavy minutes late in the season as Henson went down in the ACC tournament with a wrist injury, and he didn’t disappoint. The freshman averaged 10.6 ppg, nearly double his season average, and 4.6 rpg in seven postseason games for the Tar Heels. That performance,, combined with the fact that McAdoo is a physical specimen that is a blood relative of Bob McAdoo, would probably have been enough to get him picked either in the late lottery or the middle of the first round.

In this day and age (and with the exception of last season, apparently), seeing a kid that is a guaranteed first round pick return to school is somewhat out of the ordinary. But McAdoo made a smart decision to return to school.

Why?

Because McAdoo has a chance to be a top five pick next season, and the difference between going 15th and fifth is a lot of money. Take a look at last season’s rookie scale. (For those that don’t know, first round draft picks get a guaranteed two-year contract with team options for the third and fourth year at predetermined values.) Jonas Valanciunas went fifth and Kawhi Leonard with 15th. Valaciunas will make double what Leonard does. Enes Kanter, who went third, will earn  almost $6 million more than Leonard in their first three years in the league.

That is a lot of money, enough to make it worth the risk to return for another season.

And rest assured, there is a major risk involved. While it is very possible that McAdoo could end up being the second coming of Thomas Robinson, who toiled behind Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins before finally getting a chance to shine this season, it is no guarantee. What happens if McAdoo struggles as the focal point of the UNC offense? What happens if he gets injured? What if he spends the offseason eating McDonald’s and Taco Bell instead of working out?

Plenty can go wrong over the next seven months that will scare of the teams looking for a franchise-changing draft pick. Barring some incredible stroke of bad luck, however, it is tough to envision McAdoo falling all the way out of the first round. If he ends up being the 25th pick of the first round instead of the 15th pick, McAdoo’s contract would only end up being worth around $1.6 million over the course of three years.

The bottom line is this: if you are projected to go in the mid-to-late first round, and, in a best case scenario, you’re a late lottery pick, it makes sense to leave immediately. The money made over the course of your contract wouldn’t be significantly greater than the money you would earn in that extra season in the NBA. But for that precious few that have a chance to play their way into the big money of the top five, there is plenty of financial incentive to stay.

I can’t help but think that is why McAdoo is back at Chapel Hill this year.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.