Why I’m In Love With PJ Hairston


     OK, well maybe I’m not drooling, ooh la-la, sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G in love. But PJ Hairston is quickly becoming my favorite Tar Heel on the 2012 roster. What’s not to love about the 19 year old freshman? PJ Hairston was born Samuel Peterson Hairston Jr. on Christmas Eve, 1992. His birthday is fitting because much like Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,  PJ has been delivering presents by scoring points for Tar Heel fans all season. No points have been bigger than those delivered from behind the arc. Hairston is currently shooting around 38% from three-point land and filling in the gap left by Leslie McDonald’s absence. At a beastly 6 foot 5 and a half inches and 220lbs, he looks like he could don Carolina Blue shoulder pads as a safety. But don’t start getting Julius Peppers-like fantasies. While Hairston did once suit up as a wide receiver when he was younger, he’s a basketball man all the way. It’s a good thing too because ladies and gentlemen, this young man is a scorer. As a prep hoops star, he threw down 15 in both the McDonald’s All-America Game in Chicago and the Jordan Brand Classic in Charlotte. In his junior year at James B. Dudley High School he set the single-game scoring record with 53 points against Southern Durham.

And did I mention the kid can dunk? We’ve all seen Hairston’s thunderous, highlight of the year caliber dunk over Texas defender, Julien Lewis. But if you had been following Hairston’s basketball career, you would know that PJ’s poster perfect slams are anything but new. It’s no coincidence that PJ wears #15 previously worn by Vince Carter, one of the best dunkers UNC or the NBA for that matter has ever seen. In fact, if you find yourself at work staring at the wall one afternoon simply google, “PJ Hairston and slam dunk.” You’ll be awed and entertained for hours. And while you’re surfing the Internet, PJ’s amazing trick shot from last summer’s NBPA Top 100 camp is a MUST SEE. From waaay beyond half-court, Hairston nonchalantly sinks a one-handed, backward 75-foot shot that would make Meadowlark Lemon’s heart palpitate. After you see it, I think you’ll be in love at first sight as well.

PJ is not just a high-flying baller, but he’s got brains as well having been a regular on the Dean’s List at James B. Dudley High School. Furthermore, it’s not every day that a UNC player makes the Huffington Post before playing his first collegiate game. In May of 2011, Hairston told HP that the guys down the road at Duke had difficulty spelling his name correctly. That’s right. That elite, private institution that sometimes likes to call itself the “Harvard of the South” repeatedly sent PJ Hairston recruiting correspondence addressed to “TJ Harrison” or some variation thereof.  While Hairston admitted that wasn’t the only reason he didn’t commit to Duke, he did seem a little baffled telling the Post:

“And I’m like, ‘OK. How can I go here? You can’t even spell my name right.’ It’s only two letters and HAIR and STON. I’m trying to figure out how that’s so hard.”

Apparently the only name the coaching staff in Durham cares about spelling correctly is the one that starts with a “K.” Hairston went on to say that he knew UNC was where he was meant to play and quickly recalls the exact day he committed: August 3, 2009 or what I like to call “Our Anniversary”.

It’s also nice to find someone close to home, you know. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for NC natives. Hairston has the potential to become the latest native NC, standout since Rashad McCants from Asheville. Hairston is a G-Vegas native and went to the same high school as Brendan Heywood. However, unlike double-zero, Hairston is almost automatic from the free throw line. He is currently shooting around 83% from the charity stripe for the season. Hairston is a shining star in one area the Heels will desperately need to improve upon as the season progresses. So PJ, teach them and teach them well. I’ll be at home watching and enjoying my burgeoning love affair with every swish. Pretty soon all the other Tar Heel fans will see what I see in you, and I will have to compete with journalists like Dick Vitale, Andy Katz and Jay Bilas for your affection. I’ve already noticed you flirting with Adam Lucas and Hubert Davis. Until then, keep “making it rain.” I’ll gladly hold the umbrella.

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