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.

BUBBLE BANTER: Key Atlantic 10, Big East bubble games

Kelan Martin, Kyle Alexander
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This post will be updated throughout the night.

Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67) at Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37), 6:30 p.m.
LSU (KenPom: 53, RPI: 76) at South Carolina (KenPom: 45, RPI: 28), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Wisconsin (KenPom: 51, RPI: 62), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) at George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34), 7:00 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 9:00 p.m.
No. 14 Iowa State at Texas Tech (KenPom: 59, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
Michigan (KenPom: 46, RPI: 56) at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 80, RPI: 57) at Utah (KenPom: 44, RPI: 16), 9:00 p.m.
San Diego State (KenPom: 65, RPI: 47) at Fresno State, 11:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ben Simmons, LSU get tested at South Carolina; more important bubble matchups

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives downcourt as teammate Antonio Blakeney (2) follows in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in New York. For all of his gaudy numbers, Simmons is still trying to figure out the best way to put the Tigers in position to win. And now the schedule gets harder, starting with Tuesday night's, Dec. 29, 2015, tilt against Wake Forest, followed by the opening of Southeastern Conference play against Vanderbilt and No. 10 Kentucky. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: LSU at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.

LSU attempts to stay atop the SEC standings when they travel on the road to face South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home this season and they’re trying to form a potential four-way tie in the conference standings if they’re able to win this one (and Texas A&M wins tonight). It will be intriguing to see how Ben Simmons fares against South Carolina’s stingy defense.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Saint Joseph’s at George Washington, 7:00 p.m.

An important game in the Atlantic 10 as Saint Joseph’s heads to the Smith Center to play surging George Washington. The Colonels have won three straight games as they try to stay with VCU and Dayton and make a move to tie the Hawks in the league standings. CBT’s Rob Dauster will be in the building for this one, so make sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. No. 21 Baylor will have a tough one in the Big 12 when they go on the road at Kansas State. The Wildcats just knocked off Oklahoma and the Octagon of Doom is a very tough place to play, even if Kansas State is struggling in the standings.
  2. No. 16 SMU will try to stay in the lead in the American as they host Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane could really use a road win like this for its postseason chances.
  3. An intriguing Pac-12 contest tips as Washington heads to Utah. The Pac-12 standings are a mess right now, but these two teams still have a chance to make one final move for the regular season title if they start building momentum now.
  4. In the SEC, Alabama hosts No. 15 Texas A&M, a team that has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies will be favored in this road contest, but this one could be interesting because of Avery Johnson’s unique connection to Texas A&M. Avery Johnson Jr., a transfer guard sitting out this season at Alabama, played for the Aggies last season, so he could have some useful tips for his dad on slowing down Texas A&M’s potent offense.
  5. No. 20 Providence will be looking for revenge when they head to Milwaukee to face Marquette. The Golden Eagles currently sit eighth in the Big East standings, but they did win on the road by a point over the Friars earlier this season.