PJ Hairston is one of the most important players on the North Carolina Tar Heels roster this season. UNC lost a ton of firepower to the NBA Draft and has to rely on the play of their perimeter players and perimeter shooting this season.
After a dismal freshman season that saw him shoot 27.8% from three point range and just 30.8% overall from the field, Hairston was mired in a deep slump that saw him shoot just 14% from three over the seasons last 16 games. Hairston was brought to Chapel Hill as one of the best shooters in the nation, a five star, top of the line offensive prospect. His slump became mental as he continued to chuck up horrible shots that earned him the Twitter hashtag #PJBeShootin.
This season has been different for Hairston, he looks confident on the floor and is playing smarter basketball on both ends of the court. I’ve only counted a few freshman year looking shots from PJ all seasons in which he fades or doesn’t set his feet correctly. His form looks good and he is taking the ball to the basket which I think is very important for his success.
The key to Hairstons success this season and beyond is not necessarily as a shooter, it’s utilizing all those different components of his game to become a more effective offensive player. They all tie in together, if PJ can establish himself has an effective slasher or even a player who can back down his man in the high post for high percentage shots, defenses cannot collapse on him and use all their efforts on defending his jumper.
New assistant coach Hubert Davis who just so happens to be UNCs all time leader in three point FG percentage is the main reason behind PJ’s improved play. Davis worked hard with Hairston in the off season and preached form and utilizing his body to get to the basket and expand his offensive attack. UNC is stacked on the perimeter but Hairston is the only player who has proven he can both shoot the ball from the perimeter and create his own offense off the dribble. On a team that lost so much offense to the NBA, that unique qualities value on this roster cannot be overstated.