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Caulton Tudor

McCants wanted limelight from the start

Posted July 7

Rashad McCants congratulates team mates during the UNC Alumni game, Friday, September 4, 2009 at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill.

Photo by Todd Melet

— Three things we know for certain about Rashad McCants:

1.He wants center-stage.
This part of his personality was obvious from his earliest days in the North Carolina basketball program. That was during the summer and autumn of 2002, when McCants joined Raymond Felton, Sean May, David Noel and Byron Sanders in a Matt Doherty-recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 nationally by some of the services.

McCants, Felton and May were all ranked among the top 10 individuals, but only McCants arrived with an aloof, self-centered personality. Only 18-years-old at the time, he had the demeanor of a snooty superstar.

Now almost 30, and long removed from any hope of a successful NBA career, McCants’ actions during the past month smack of his lingering need for attention.

In a way it’s almost as though McCants still sees himself as the villain emeritus of the Tar Heels program and is jealous of the role P.J. Hairston assumed last season as McCants’ heir apparent.

That said, it is entirely possible McCants is being truthful in his allegations that the school’s administration, Roy Williams, Doherty and high-ranking athletic department officials knew about -- and condoned -- academic fraud.

Williams strongly denies those charges and he has a lot more credibility than McCants.

When McCants says he’s taking these actions for the “betterment” of children, to “save lives” and save “future generations,” it comes across as scripted, near-laughable rhetoric.

Maybe he’s being honest when he says he’s seen a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Maybe he’s changed. Maybe he’s become a caped crusader for academic reform in athletics.

But it’s just as likely that the “light” he’s talking about is the spotlight he wanted back.

2.UNC could not have won in 2005 without him.
As much as many Carolina fans may dislike McCants today -- as at a lot of them did during his college career -- the Heels never would have won the 2005 NCAA title without his offense.

McCants didn’t invest a lot of energy on defense and it caught up with him fast in the pros. But as Williams’ second Carolina team went 33-4, 14-2 in the ACC and defeated Oakland, Iowa State, Villanova, Wisconsin, Michigan State and finally Illinois en route to the title, McCants’ perimeter shooting was instrumental.

May was the best player during the Final Four and Felton was easily the most important piece in the team’s success, but McCants’ 16-point scoring average made the offense click in transition and from the perimeter against half-court defenses. His late free throw was crucial in a controversial 67-66 third-round win over Villanova at Syracuse in the East Regional.

Doherty, given a recruit mulligan today, probably would have focused instead on Julius Hodge or Jarrett Jack. Both were interested in Carolina as high school players, but McCants was from Asheville and deemed a better talent. As it turned out, Hodge won an ACC Player of the Year award at NC State and Jack had a fruitful college career at Georgia Tech and evolved into a much better NBA player. 

McCants’ ego could get too big for the locker room and sometimes too big for the playing court. But credit is due where it’s due and he was vital in 2005, when Williams won his first national title and made Carolina basketball a national headliner again.

3.No retreating now.
Whether McCants will be remembered as a champion for reform, a self-centered scoundrel or perhaps both as the UNC saga plays out, he’s stitched himself into the fabric of the story now.

There’s no way for him to fold tent and run and it’s for sure he can’t go home again if he considers Carolina a home in any definition of the word. He’s not merely a part of the narrative, he’s talked himself into a lead role. This part of his life story will follow him for many years and his potential impact on the school and its sports could be more dramatic and longer lasting than memories of his jumpers against Michigan State and Illinois in St. Louis.

McCants the basketball player is gone. McCants the activist spokesman is the life he’s chosen.

69 Comments

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  • Jcwolf75 Jul 9, 3:20 p.m.

    right on cue, here come the columns to trash McCants.....because of course nobody at UNC has... View More

    — Posted by dave437

    My thoughts exactly, but I do think McCants is after a book deal or some kind of payoff. Either way, get the popcorn it should be interesting to see what happens.

  • 903 Born To Be Hated Dying To Be Jul 9, 1:47 p.m.

    So funny how UNCheat fans absolutely LOVED McCants when he was averaging 16 PPG in the NCAA... View More

    — Posted by fbguru

    So funny how UNCheat fans absolutely LOVED McCants when he was averaging 16 PPG in the NCAA tourney, but now they HATE him because he's blowing the whistle on YEARS of academic fraud that included the b-ball program, which UNC Athletic Dept (including 'Ole Roy) thought they had covered up


    It certainly proves McCants' point that UNC and its fans just exploited him while he had eligibility to play ball in the UNC uniform... Now that he doesn't, all loyalty and respect is out the window...

  • fbguru Jul 9, 10:41 a.m.

    So funny how UNCheat fans absolutely LOVED McCants when he was averaging 16 PPG in the NCAA tourney, but now they HATE him because he's blowing the whistle on YEARS of academic fraud that included the b-ball program, which UNC Athletic Dept (including 'Ole Roy) thought they had covered up. Is he telling the truth about everything? Probably not. Is he seeking attention and money? Probably. Does that negate the facts on the transcripts and the records of b-ball players from the same era taking the same bogus AFR-AMER courses as the football players? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

  • LuvsThePack Jul 9, 9:33 a.m.

    I think he just believes they have an open-and-shut case against the Holes and the NCAA. He's basically saying, "get ready to write me a fat check".

    I don't think he meant the $300 million would go to him, personally. Probably more of a punitive amount the NCAA would have to pay toward programs that help these athletes and/or go toward education about vile programs like UN*C that only want to use the athletes to line their own pockets before throwing them out with the bathwater.

  • heelsforever Jul 9, 8:59 a.m.

    Alex confusing needs and wants like so many children.

  • Alex25 Jul 9, 8:49 a.m.

    Banners need to come down.

  • Alex25 Jul 9, 8:47 a.m.

    UNCCH: worst cheating scandal ever. This isn't about McCants....he's the hero.

    www.unccheats.com/facebook

  • dave437 Jul 9, 8:22 a.m.

    right on cue, here come the columns to trash McCants.....because of course nobody at UNC has done anything wrong....

  • vile garbage Jul 9, 7:31 a.m.

    It's for the kids, not money. UNC owes ME $10,000,000.00. I never went to class. It is like prison here where all I do is go to class and to practice. I sucked in the NBA and wasted millions of dollars and now I am a nobody. Oh wait, that part is true.

  • fbguru Jul 9, 7:26 a.m.

    "Heels never would have won the 2005 title without his offense"...This is true, and if this investigation reveals academic fraud in the b-ball program as it did in the football program, with b-ball players taking the same AFR-AMER studies, it is not far fetched to wonder if banners will fall (be not dismayed, they have so many in the Smith Center, you probably won't notice!)

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