May 5th, 2012 at 9:45 am
Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
PJ Hairston came to Carolina as a highly touted, five star recruit with a great shot, terrific athleticism, size, strength, basketball IQ and range the minute he steps on the court. In other words, Hairston was hailed as the real deal. A few nice, 20 point games that saw Hairston knock down several long two’s and three pointers, fueled the hype.
Then the slump began, and it never really ended for Hairston. PJ couldn’t hit the ocean standing on the beach getting his feet wet from the tide for most of the season. What started with a shooting slump, ended up being a full on, paralyzing hit to his entire game. Hairston was a player who attacked the rim with consistency, took good shots and utilized his strength and athleticism. He did none of that as a freshman in Chapel Hill. Hairston may have been the least active player on the roster.
He became a player content with standing around and shooting spot up jumpers. As his shots continued to miss, his playing time started to decrease even with the injury to Dexter Strickland. Hairston looked almost desperate by the end of the regular season. Putting up almost any shot, anywhere on the floor, anytime he received the ball with enough room to get the shot off. The slump seemed to affect him mentally and his entire game suffered, not just offensively. Defensively, Hairston was less active than I expected him to be after scouting him in high school. He didn’t attack the boards, his passion for the game replaced with frustration.
Hubert Davis had the same type of shot, a sweet release, perfect rotation, big time range, almost automatic from mid range. PJ Hairston is way too good, way too athletic and way too smart of a player to struggle the way he did his freshman season. Hairston needs to be taught how to play within the offense. How to incorporate his skills into the teams schemes. How to move effectively without the basketball. When to attack the basket, how to use his size to his advantage. There’s almost no way a new coach could ask for a better canvas in which to work with. Hairston is already very solid fundamentally, he’s a very smart player, you can’t teach athleticism and shooters like PJ don’t come around often. Even if he did shoot just 32% from the field and sub 30% from three as a freshman. And if I had to name one coach to work with him, it’s Hubert Davis.
I expect Hairston to have a huge season as a sophomore. He’s going to be apart of a very deep Tar Heel perimeter. With Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald returning from injuries, Reggie Bullock coming off a very solid sophomore season and JP Tokoto coming in with the 2012 class. Hairston needs to come out storming his sophomore year in order to solidify minutes in the rotation. Carolina needs him almost as much as he does. The team will have tons of athleticism and depth on the perimeter. Roy Williams will need his wings to shoot the ball much better than they did last year, a breakout by Hairston is just what the doctor ordered.
Matt is the founder, lead editor and writer for KeepingitHeel.com on the Fansided.com Network. Keeping it Heel is a website dedicated to the UNC Tar Heels. We strive to bring you the best coverage of the Heels on the web. Add to the debate by adding your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of each column. Please send any feedback on the site to [email protected]
Matt is also the assistant editor and senior writer for NinerNoise.com of the Fansided.com Network. NinerNoise.com is a website dedicated to the San Francisco 49ers.
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