Tar Heels in Asia

You may have read the post a few weeks ago when I was highlighting the Tar Heels playing overseas in Europe, but Europe isn’t the only continent we have players representing Carolina Basketball. Five Tar Heels played in Asia this season.

The dream is to play in the NBA for so many young players, but this is easier said than done. A study from 2019 showed that 4.2% of draft eligible players from the NCAA were picked in the NBA Draft, although the percentage to play professionally such as G League or overseas is a lot higher at 21%1. If the NBA doesn’t work out, there is always overseas. The University of North Carolina currently have 19 players overseas playing professional basketball.

This post will give you the latest updates on all the Tar Heels playing professional basketball across Asia including highlights, interviews and the most up to date statistics.

  1. https://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/estimated-probability-competing-professional-athletics

James Michael McAdoo – Hitachi Sun Rockers (Japan)

James Michael McAdoo was one of the most exciting prospects coming out of High School after winning the 2009 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (also won by the likes of Jordan, Shaq, LeBron, Durant, Carmelo… the list goes on). JMM spent three seasons in Chapel Hill, starting his Tar Heel career teaming up with Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall. McAdoo ended his time at Carolina Basketball as one of the main go to guys alongside Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson.

McAdoo headed off to the NBA after foregoing his final year, which resulted in him joining the Golden State Warriors and playing his part in back-to-back NBA Championship teams. JMM has recently been playing in Europe, even teaming up with Marcus Paige again in Serbia last season. He decided to take his talents to Asia for the 2020/21 season, playing for Hitachi Sun Rockers in Japan (team-mates with former Dook player, Ryan Kelly).

Hitachi Sun Rockers play in the second tier of Japanese basketball in the B-League and have a current record of 24-13. McAdoo’s has hit a season-high 22 points in games twice this season, also grabbing a season-high 16 rebounds at the end of January. JMM has had a great career so far and looks to continue this overseas.

Originally tweeted by サンロッカーズ渋谷 (@we_r_sunrockers) on January 30, 2021.
BESIKTAS (TURKEY)2019/2020.78.556.641.0
HITACHI SUN ROCKERS (JAPAN)2020/2121.611.076.740.41
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Jawad Williams – Levanga Hokkaido (Japan)

Jawad Williams spent four seasons at Chapel Hill with his final game on April 4th 2005 which saw him cut down the nets and becoming a NCAA Champion. Since then, Williams has been all over the world playing professional basketball including a few seasons in the NBA with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. The majority of his career has been spent overseas where Williams would become a champion, again and again.

Jawad won championships in France, Turkey and recently Japan, where he is currently playing. Williams plays for the Levanga Hokkaido of the B-League in Japan with a team record of 9-28. It hasn’t been the greatest of seasons for Jawad’s team, but a player of his calibre should hopefully help turn around their fortunes with plenty of games left this season.

Also, Jawad Williams is now a Children’s Book Author, check out his latest books by clicking here.

Originally tweeted by B.LEAGUE(Bリーグ) (@B_LEAGUE) on June 26, 2020.
TOYOTA ALVARK (JAPAN)2017/1819.78.83.391.0
TOYOTA ALVARK (JAPAN)2018/1923.610.424.311.27
LINK TOCHIGI BREX (JAPAN)2019/2014.17.162.890.58
LEVANGA HOKKAIDO (JAPAN)2020/2126.010.64.691.54
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Kennedy Meeks – Changwon LG Sakers (South Korea)

Kennedy Meeks was a part of the 2017 National Championship team and in all honesty, his block in the Championship game will forever be one of my favourite ever Tar Heel moments. Since graduating from Chapel Hill, Kennedy spent a season in the G-League before heading overseas and taking his game to Asia.

Kennedy’s first stop in Asia was in Japan, playing for the Aishin Sea Horses and then Levanga Hokkaido in the Japanese B-League (the second tier of basketball in Japan). Last season, Kennedy was boasting quite the stat line, averaging over 20 and 10 for a whole season for Levanga Hokkaido and recording 21 DBL/DBLs out of 31 games played. HUGE NUMBERS!

Meeks is now playing in South Korea, after starting the season in Seoul and playing with fellow Tar Heel and close friend Isaiah Hicks. Kennedy was recently involved in a trade a couple of weeks ago that now sees him playing for Changwon LG Sakers. Changwon LG Sakers currently sit bottom of the Korean Basketball League (KBL) with a record of 13-27, but still plenty of games left. The KBL is the top level of basketball in South Korea. Kennedy is still enjoying himself over in South Korea and Japan, he recently shared a more in depth look at his time over there in a podcast with IKEMAX.

Source: YouTube IKEMAX – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGJif483ZTI
AISHIN SEA HORSES (JAPAN)2018/1932.014.6811.01.0517
LEVANGA HOKKAIDO (JAPAN)2019/2034.120.9710.871.2321
SEOUL SAMSUNG THUNDERS (SOUTH KOREA)2020/2115.16.816.000.311
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Isaiah Hicks – Seoul Samsung Thunders (South Korea)

Isaiah Hicks played four years for the UNC Tar Heels with his last game in Carolina Blue cutting down the nets against Gonzaga. Hicks then headed off to the NBA and was picked up by New York Knicks, playing some games at the highest level and then some time in the G-League for the Westchester Knicks.

Last season Isaiah started his overseas career with a season in Russia, before heading over to South Korea to play in the big city of Seoul. As you read earlier, Isaiah was teaming up with Kennedy in Seoul before a trade just a couple weeks ago.

Hicks has been Seoul’s best player this season, leading the team in PPG, RPG and BPG. Hicks is currently in the top 5 scorers of the league as well.

Seoul currently have a record of 17-22 with still plenty more games left of the 2020/21 season, I wonder if Isaiah can carry Seoul to the Play Offs..?

AVTODAR SARATOV (RUSSIA)2019/2028.312.866.712.0
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Justin Knox – Wonju Dongbu Promy (South Korea)

Justin Knox was a graduate transfer in the 2010-2011 season, where the team went to the Elite Eight. Before coming to Chapel Hill, Justin played basketball at the University of Alabama. Since leaving Chapel Hill, Knox has seen a lot of the world thanks to basketball and now finds himself residing in South Korea while playing for the Wonju Dongbu Promy in the KBL.

Knox will go up against fellow Tar Heels, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks this season, with his team on a four game win streak that sees them at 15-24. Knox currently leads the team in field goal percentage, as well as defensive rebounds per game too.

Justin’s overseas career has now entered his tenth year with him recording his highest points per game this season since 2012/13.

PALLACANESTRO TRIESTE (ITALY)2018/1917.110.424.290.68
TRENTO (ITALY)2019/2022.110.575.190.59
WONJU DONGBU PROMY (SOUTH KOREA)2020/2123.815.417.210.74
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Tyler Hansbrough – Sichuan Blue Whales (China)

Some may say he’s the greatest ever Tar Heel, and you know what… it would be a pretty good debate. Tyler Hansbrough’s career at North Carolina was legendary. He still holds the record for points and rebounds all-time and in all honesty, I don’t see those records being broken for a very long time.

Since leaving Chapel Hill in 2009, Tyler had a solid NBA career before heading over to China in 2017. Tyler’s three seasons in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) have seen him get impressive individual numbers, but he has not played during the 2020/21 season. Last season, Tyler averaged over 32 points a game, with one game he recorded 49 points and 22 rebounds… wow.

“I love China, I love the people, it’s been a great experience. I loved all three cities. I enjoy going to China, I enjoy playing and I still feel I’m really good at what I do.”

Tyler Hansbrough on Carolina Insider

This season comes to an end later this month and I’m unsure if Tyler didn’t play due to the pandemic or if he is even still under contract at Sichuan? Either way, Hansbrough sounds like he wants to come back to the CBA and it would be great to see Psycho-T dominating again.

GUANGZHOU LOONG LIONS (CHINA)2017/1826.720.859.921.26
ZHEJIANG CHOUZHOU (CHINA)2018/1932.020.1110.931.63
SICHUAN BLUE WHALES (CHINA)2019/2036.532.2913.411.71
Statistics are up to date as of Feb 18th 2021 (source: basketball.realgm.com)

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did putting it together. If you enjoyed this, check out the ‘Tar Heels in Europe’ post and I will be posting another update on the Tar Heels in Europe next week.

Click on the Twitter link and follow for more updates on players overseas.

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