North Carolinas PJ Hairston struggled mightily in his freshman season shooting just 27% from the three point range and less than 31% from the field. Coming into Chapel Hill he was known as a big time shooter but after a good start last season his confidence clearly took a huge hit and his entire game struggled. He became merely a stand around shooter on the offensive end and didn’t do much on the defensive end to validate himself worthy of big minutes in the rotation.
As the season wore on his struggles got worse and worse and by the end of the regular season he was a mere role player with little offer to the teams quest for a national championship. After a great summer in the NC Pro Am and over 66% of the Tar Heels offense headed to the NBA, UNC is counting on Hairstons sophomore season being a lot different, but so far, it’s not.
Hairston has shot just 3-14 so far this season and 1-7 from three point range and is averaging just four points per game this season. To his credit, Hairston is doing more overall for the team, playing better defense, rebounding and hustling. The team needs a whole lot more than that from him this season. UNC lost a lot of firepower and need scoring from Hairston. We keep hearing and believing that he is a great shooter, when he’s on, his range is unlimited. But I am personally tired of waiting on him to start connecting, he needs to stop being a shooter and start being a scorer.
Hairston has the size and ball handling to get to the basket, create his own shot and has demonstrated the ability to finish at the basket. Hairston has shown that he can contribute in other ways on the court and is really taking pride in his defensive performance, being apart of a stacked perimeter group scoring will separate the ones who become role players and those who get big time minutes.
Reggie Bullock has said on multiple occasions that Hairston, his best friend on the team just needs confidence in his game and he can be a big time player. The catch in this case is Hairston needs to prove himself in order to earn the minutes and as any shooter knows, he needs the minutes to get the shots to gain that confidence. Roy will give Hairston and the rest of the roster a month or so before he puts a final rotation into place, PJ has some time to get his game together, but not long.