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Ex-UNC star Rashad McCants reinvents himself as an actor

The Dagger

LostLettermen.com, the college sports online magazine and former player database, regularly contributes to The Dagger. Here's a look at the current whereabouts of former North Carolina star Rashad McCants.

People have come to expect the unpredictable and outrageous from Rashad McCants.

This is the former college basketball star who once said being at North Carolina was like being in jail, who tattooed "Born To Be Hated" on one arm and "Dying To Be Loved" on the other, and who compared people understanding him to reading the Bible.

But even McCants' erratic past didn't prepare fans for the latest twist in his tumultuous career. Having washed out of the NBA as a result of concerns about his attitude and his ability to coexist with teammates, the 26-year-old former first-round draft pick is dabbling in acting and his first foray into the thespian arts is a doozy.

The above clip is from the pilot to a TV series called "The Booster Club," produced by McCants and starring him and former adult-film actress Traci Lords. Billed as a comedy series about a ring of professional booster thieves, the show is now being shopped around Hollywood in hopes of finding a network interested in airing it.

Whereas athletes-turned-actors like Rick Fox or Ray Allen have played variations of themselves, McCants raised some eyebrows shooting for something a bit more complex in his first role.

The blogosphere buzzed last month that McCants was playing a bi-sexual, cross-dressing leader of a shoplifting ring, but he insists that isn't exactly accurate. McCants said his character isn't bi-sexual or a cross-dresser, just a villain that's always doing the unexpected.

Although NBA coaches and executives quickly grew tired of his prickly demeanor, it's worked to his advantage in acting because people in Hollywood tell him he's intimidating.

"They like that about me, that I can play boss roles and gangster roles," McCants said.

McCants first began taking acting classes a couple years ago when he moved to Los Angeles to rehab an injury. He currently spends his time in Southern California training for basketball, auditioning for acting roles, and running his own production company, record label and management company.

If McCants' chances of becoming an entertainment mogul seem far-fetched, he's got at least one believer in Hollywood in Percy Miller, better known as rapper "Master P." McCants says Miller has represented him since last summer.

"This is as deep of a brotherhood as it gets when it comes to P and me and everything that we're doing," McCants said. "He actually helped me revamp my whole thinking of life and how to approach these situations when dealing with being excluded from everything. He's really helped me in that aspect."

It would have been difficult to imagine that McCants would already be out of basketball when he led North Carolina to a championship in 2005, but some of his attitude issues first cropped up in Chapel Hill.

There, McCants was labeled a pariah for butting heads with former coach Matt Doherty, for making the aforementioned jail comment and for the perception that he pouted and was aloof. A newspaper columnist even called him "borderline psychotic" in a radio interview.

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One problem McCants never had there? Scoring. He led the Tar Heels in points per game his first two seasons and as a junior in 2005, McCants shot nearly 49 percent from the field and was the second-leading scorer on the team that defeated Illinois in the national title game.

Drafted 14th by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005, McCants didn't have a chance to make an immediate impact because he underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee. He bounced back in his third year, leading the team in scoring at almost 15 points per game.

Questions about McCants' me-first attitude cropped up again the following year when his shooting percentage plummeted and he was criticized for being a ball hog. He also made headlines on New Year's Eve 2009, when he flew to Las Vegas on an off day to visit then-girlfriend Khloe Kardashian, returning the following day in time for a noon practice.

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By February, he was shipped to Sacramento. And when the Kings selected fellow shooting guard Tyreke Evans that summer in the 2009 NBA draft, McCants became an afterthought.

The last time McCants played professional basketball was last December when he had a three-game stint in the NBDL. Even though that ended abruptly when McCants thought he had a shot at playing in the NBA again, McCants has no plans to return to the D-League.

"I'm not a D-League player," McCants said. "D-League is for developmental. There is nothing I need to develop in the NBA."

If his time in college felt like jail, this must feel like exile as even teams in desperate need of a scorer (i.e. the Cleveland Cavaliers) still keep their distance.

McCants' agent told him NBA general managers want him to "show humility" before he'll get another opportunity, yet he hasn't exactly adhered to that request. After initially saying he was better than 70 percent of the players in the NBA, McCants upped the ante after being informed his agent thought the percentage was even higher.

"I was being modest saying 70 percent," McCants said. "My honest opinion is 95 percent. I don't even think there are top-tier All-Stars who are better than me, and they know who they are."

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McCants' agent, E. Lindsey Maxwell, points out that playing in the D-League also comes with the risk of injury. And in fairness, it's not McCants' game that NBA general managers are questioning. But how will they react now that McCants has spit out the humble pie they tried to feed him?

The other strategy Maxwell and McCants had was meeting with as many front office executives and coaches as possible before the season to dispel the player's bad reputation.

Said Maxwell: "Rashad is a very nice guy, he's a very warm guy. He's a competitive person and once you get to know him, you know he's a great guy to be around."

While fans might scoff at that comment, there is certainly another side to McCants that many people don't see. He has his own charity foundation for at-risk youth called "Generation 1 Foundation" and started the "Shoot For the Cure Foundation" to fight breast cancer, which his mother was diagnosed with during his last year in Chapel Hill. When he started in the NBDL, McCants also said he was going to donate his salary to charity.

If McCants goes unsigned for the rest of this season, Maxwell says the two are prepared to do the "same song and dance" next offseason.

"I have no doubt that Rashad will be back in the NBA," Maxwell said. "There's no doubt about it. He is the best player right now who is not on a roster."

If McCants can't chase his basketball dreams for now, he's content to pursue his acting goals. When asked for his favorite actor, McCants answers "Denzel Washington" without hesitation.

"He's the best," McCants said. "I don't want to follow anybody but the best. Whether that was Michael Jordan, that was Denzel Washington, that was Tupac Shakur. These are the guys I grew up wanting to be just like."

McCants' chances of returning to the NBA dwindle with each passing month, yet he certainly isn't going to grovel before NBA general managers to get back to where he thinks he belongs.

And if his basketball career is indeed over, it also doesn't appear McCants will lose any sleep over it.

"I can't stress over it anymore," McCants said. "I'm not the kind of guy that basketball's my only hope in life. I'm not that kind of human being. I'm not that kind of person to limit myself. So one door closes, another one opens."

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