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.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.