In a whirlwind span of months since declaring for the NBA Draft, answering dozens upon dozens of questions on expectations and performance, scrutinized by stats, what else can James Michael McAdoo possibly converse about?
"I had to realize that God had a purpose for my life and He put me there for a reason.”
And it is a topic he welcomes, a breath of fresh air in a stale waiting room in between the college and professional jump.
How is the Norfolk, Va., native dealing with the uncertainty of this upcoming transition? “In facing adversity and stepping into this process where I don’t really know where I’m going to be—What team is going to draft me? If I don’t get drafted, am I going to play overseas? What happens?—the biggest thing is just realizing He’s got His hand on me and having faith.”
The biggest highlight of McAdoo’s career at UNC comes not from hoops, but from the heart.
Earlier this year, he and his best friend, teammate Desmond Hubert, found themselves navigating rough waters. After a tough early morning practice, the two friends went to grab breakfast and talked about life matters. “Desmond had been my best friend the whole time I’ve been at UNC and was someone I had been praying for to come to know Christ. We probably stayed there for two hours- man, it was the Holy Spirit, it was God- I was just the one who was able to be there.”
"The biggest thing is just realizing He’s got His hand on me and having faith.”
-James Michael McAdoo
Hubert accepted Christ, and McAdoo rejoiced alongside him. “That’s my biggest highlight here at UNC, besides marrying my wife- not any championship, not any game or single performance I had, but being able to invest in one of my teammate’s life and know that his name is going to be in the Book of Life.”
He and his college sweetheart, junior volleyball outside hitter Lauren Adkins, married at the end of the school year. “Always having her support and understanding of what I was going through is a blessing- from making a decision to go pro to dealing with all the critics and crazy fans, just the ups and down a season can have and the emotional toll it can take on me. It’s been a crazy past couple months, it’s been a crazy year, but I’m loving every second of it.”
With both parents in ministry, McAdoo grew up in a Christian environment. When he stepped onto the UNC campus, he needed to make the family faith his own. “It was a rough transition at first, being out at a school such as UNC where people are partying and doing this and doing that, and to be a big time athlete where everyone caters to you.
“Realizing it wasn’t going to be easy to pick up the cross and carry it, it came down to making a personal decision and understanding that my life is not my own and I’m here for Christ no matter what. As time went on, it came down to being all out and not holding back. I had to realize that God had a purpose for my life and He put me there for a reason.”
"Any opportunity I can have to point the finger to Him and give Him the glory, that’s all I want to do."
Though only a junior, McAdoo sensed the tug away from campus. After the season, he declared for the NBA Draft. While various factors weigh into athletes turning pro, McAdoo kept calm through the decision-making process. “At the end of the day, it’s just a feeling,” he stated. “Having prayer and always relying on Jesus, I know He’s not going to steer me wrong.”
McAdoo realizes the platform he has and how sports ministry can affect the younger generation. “My dad used to run FCA Huddles in the area I grew up,” he said. “I remember them like it was yesterday, being involved in those camps from such a young age.”
Generally shy of speaking, he acknowledges his placement in the public eye is with purpose. “I hate people putting a microphone in my face, but God’s put me in this position. Any opportunity I can have to point the finger to Him and give Him the glory, that’s all I want to do.
“I don’t want to score 1,000 points, I don’t want to win 1,000 games, I just want people to realize I don’t play basketball for myself,” he shared. “No matter what adversities I face, how bad a season goes, or even how good a season goes, at the end of the day I’m playing for a bigger reason, and that’s to glorify my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Camarati/UNC Athletics