North Carolina junior James Michael McAdoo felt he had put off going to the NBA long enough.
The 6-foot-9 forward had flirted with entering the draft after each of his first two seasons before announcing Thursday that he would make the jump this time around.
In a statement from the school, McAdoo said he planned to complete coursework to earn his history degree.
“I just feel I am ready to play at the next level and excited about that challenge,” McAdoo said. “I had chances to go after my freshman and sophomore years but was more excited about coming back to school then.
“Right now I am excited about fulfilling my dream to play in the NBA and do what I have to do to take that next step.”
The Norfolk, Va., native averaged 14.2 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Tar Heels, helping them go on a 12-game winning streak in Atlantic Coast Conference play before falling to Iowa State in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. He was a second-team all-ACC pick as a sophomore and junior.
“I am extremely happy for James Michael, but at the same time I am sad for me because I won’t get a chance to coach that youngster again,” coach Roy Williams said in a statement. “He’s a wonderful kid who has been a very dependable player and one of the top players in the ACC the past two seasons.
“... We support him 100 percent in his decision, wish him nothing but the best in his professional career and understand that it is truly important to him and his family that he complete his degree work.”
McAdoo, a relative of program great Bob McAdoo, improved gradually each year yet never became a dominant player.
He was at his best attacking defenders off the dribble or hitting a face-up jumper, yet he struggled at the foul line (55 percent during the past two seasons) and often seemed more content blending in with his teammates than seizing a lead role.
He started his career behind eventual NBA first-round picks Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller on a preseason No. 1 team.
When Henson suffered a wrist injury during the ACC Tournament, McAdoo thrived in a bigger role for a team that reached a regional final.
After passing on the draft, McAdoo averaged 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 45 percent as a sophomore, then returned to mirror those numbers in his final season.
The Tar Heels (24-10) lose McAdoo and fifth-year senior Leslie McDonald as starters, but return all-ACC performer Marcus Paige and add three McDonald’s All-Americans in point guard Joel Berry, and wings Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson, who was named an Associated Press all-state pick for North Carolina on Wednesday.