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Return of a Former NCAA Hero On Tap

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It has been a summer of change in Charlotte.  There is a new coach in town in legendary nomad Larry Brown.  There is a new lottery pick and backup-for-now point guard in Texas' D.J. Augustin.  First-rounder Alexis Ajinca joins the fold as well. 

And there are two slightly older lottery picks coming back to the lineup after considerable time off with injuries, too.  One is a guy who filled it up in college but was a huge bust in his rookie season, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison.  The 2006 draft's third pick's major marketable skill heading into his first season was supposed to be his shooting, and he put up a miserable 45.0 percent true shooting mark as rookie to go with his expected lack of contributions defensively or on the glass.  He is still just 24 years old, and with a new coach, perhaps he will become a more well-rounded player.  But the expectations here aren't high.

The other lottery returnee is none other than former NCAA tourney Most Outstanding Player winner Sean May.  What he can do is anyone's guess.

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Rick Bonnell has a good piece over at the Charlotte Observer about May's excitement for his return and a second chance at the NBA.  May hasn't played in a professional game since March 14, 2007, when he hung 20 points and 12 boards on the Kings in a Bobcats victory.  May played a total of just 58 games in his first two seasons and missed the entirety of what would have been his third campaign thanks to recurring problems with his right knee. 

It's hard to make the claim that May's injury issues were too surprising.  This is a guy who was maligned at times throughout his college career and certainly coming into the 2005 draft (in which he was drafted 13th by Charlotte) for his chronic conditioning issues.  There were plenty of expectations that the extra weight he carried would end up taking a major toll on his knees, and it did so sooner rather than later.  Those same conditioning concerns existed regarding how well May would be able to play when healthy.

For the first time since the end of his days at the University of North Carolina, we may be able to find out just what type of NBA player Sean May is.  Bonnell reports that May has been playing in pick-up games for some time now and that he says he is pain-free.  He'll be in camp from the start, and, according to Larry Brown, he'll have a shot at the starting power forward's spot on this team.

Beyond the fact that he had his critics regarding conditioning while playing in college, it's also worth remembering that the former Chapel Hill star was an incredible player at the collegiate level.  He improved in each of his three seasons in college, upping his averages to 17.5 points and 10.7 boards per game to go with 56.7 percent field goal shooting and 62 percent true shooting his junior year.  The son of former Indiana Hoosiers star Scott May led the Tar Heels to a number one seed and a national championship that year as well, winning the tournament's MOP award along the way.  He was a stalwart in the paint and on the glass for one of the best programs in the country throughout his career, and he played smart basketball and did what it took to win.

More than anything else, it was the issues about his vertical size (not enough of that) and his horizontal size (too much of that) and the accompanying conditioning issues that dropped May down to 13th for the hometown Bobcats.  Though there is some uncertainty as to whether he is tall enough to moonlight at center or quick enough to play power forward regularly, this is a strong kid who knows the game and how to play it.  May averaged 11.9 points and 6.7 boards per game in his second season in Charlotte, and he averages 17.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career.  That's not exactly terrible.  

This is a guy who needs to learn how to stay on the court both so far as injuries and foul trouble are concerned.  But Sean May claims to be in better shape than ever before (and observer Bonnell agrees), and he knows how to score the basketball on a team that has had its share of trouble with that in times past.  Perhaps an old Carolina coach with a former Carolina big man for a new Carolina team will turn out to be a productive combination in its own right.