Caulton Tudor

Hairston torching D-League but didn't dominate Duke

Posted February 10

North Carolina's PJ Hairston during the Tar Heels' 87-77 title game loss to Miami in the 60th ACC Tournament on Sunday, March 17, 2013 in Greensboro, NC (Photo by Jack Morton).

— With Duke on the doorstep, it’s only natural that some North Carolina coaches, players and fans will have a few “what if” moments regarding P.J. Hairston this week.

There’s no question Hairston’s absence has severely weakened the team and perhaps will wind up bushwhacking the entire season. Had he played the entire season, UNC probably would be in the top 10 at this historically significant stage of the season.

At 6-4 in the ACC and 16-7 overall, the Heels probably won’t get back in the national top 20 -  even if they beat the Blue Devils (8-3, 19-5) Wednesday in Chapel Hill (9 p.m., WRAL-TV/620 The Buzz).

But over four career games against Duke, Hairston had only one big night and that came in UNC’s 73-68 loss last year on Feb. 13 (Mike Krzyzewski’s birthday) in Durham.

Hairston had 23 points and eight rebounds to lead the Heels, but he still missed six of seven 3-points attempts.

In the March 9 game at Carolina, Hairston had 14 points but missed five of six three's as Duke won easily, 69-53.

Then as a freshman in the 2011-12 season, Hairston played 15 minutes off the bench and scored only two points in Carolina’s 88-70 win at Durham (March 3, 2012) and got in for 10 minutes without scoring in Duke’s 85-84 win (Austin Rivers) at Chapel Hill on Feb. 8.

• • •
Hairston’s impact in the NBA Developmental League obviously underscores what he might have meant to the Tar Heels.

Through 10 games with the Texas Legends, he’s averaging 26.3 points and converting almost 40 percent of 3-points attempts behind the NBA’s arc (23 feet, nine inches compared to 20-9 in the NCAA).

Had Hairston played the entire season in the D-League, he would probably be the leading MVP candidate. At the moment, he’s the only D-League player projected to go in the first round of the NBA Draft (June 26) in New York. Most of the draft analysts rate him as a mid first-rounder.

Former Duke guard Seth Curry, who scored 31 points in the two wins over Carolina last season, is also doing well in the D-League, averaging 19.4 points through 21 games for the Santa Cruz Warriors.

Three former N.C. State players  - forwards Rich Howell and C.J. Leslie and guard C.J. Williams - are also having impressive seasons in the D-League.

Howell is averaging 18.5 points and 10 rebounds through 20 games with the Idaho Stampede. Howell’s teammate, former UNC guard Dexter Strickland, has had some injury problems and is averaging less than three points in nine games.

With the Erie Bay Bayhawks, Leslie is averaging 13.6 and 5.8 rebounds over 30 games.
Williams, in his second D-League season, is averaging 14.3 points and 4.1 rebounds for the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

• • •
Another familiar figure in the Carolina-Duke series who will not be in the Dean Dome on Wednesday is Chris Collins.

After 13 seasons on Krzyzewski’s staff, the 39-year-old Collins took the Northwestern job at the end of 2012-13 and is doing better than anyone expected in his first season.

Collins’ team is 12-12 overall and 5-6 in the Big Ten after being picked for last place in many of the preseason polls.

The Wildcats, 13-19 (4-14 Big Ten) last season under Bill Carmody, have won four of their last six, including a 65-56 win at 14th-ranked Wisconsin on Jan. 29.

42 Comments

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  • hollylama Feb 13, 8:50 a.m.

    Glad he found another opportunity.

  • LUKECAGE Feb 12, 10:41 a.m.

    Don't know the point of this story? I thought everybody had moved on from this.

  • HEELSrocknU Feb 12, 9:32 a.m.

    what a dumb article...PJ only showed flashes in his previous years. Ever heard of break out years tutor?....Roy even said that his preseason practices was the BEST gaurd he had ever coached. So yeah, "what IF"...let's just say there's a lotta of dook fans saying thank you jesus for Bubba not doing the right thing

  • wake_up_jeff_0 Feb 11, 11:33 a.m.

    This story is a waste of space...PJ is averaging 26pt/game in the D-League...his D-League points and what he did at UNC is a non factor for Wed. I got one for you Tudor "A. Rivers was clutch against the Tar Heel but is a non factor in the NBA"....Neither story will help their FORMER team tomorrow...LOL

  • dave437 Feb 11, 10:42 a.m.

    what is 'historically significant' about Feb. 10th, during a college basketball season?

  • packguy Feb 11, 10:17 a.m.

    "At the moment, he’s the only D-League player projected to go in the first round of the NBA Draft (June 26) in New York. Most of the draft analysts rate him as a mid first-rounder."

    Haven't most (99%) of the players in the D-League already been drafted and/or passed over in the draft? Hairston's case is fairly unusual, I think.

  • Gunnstigator Feb 11, 10:11 a.m.

    Tough crowd here today.

    Yeah, the Heels definitely miss Hairston's experience, toughness and three's, but he's not on the team anymore; end of story. Hairston isn't the first Heels player to do better after leaving the program - Harrison Barnes is doing well in the NBA. Some kids make great college players, others do better in the pros. At any rate, Carolina has moved on, and that's what's important.

  • Tar Heels Blue Feb 11, 10:00 a.m.

    Who cares what he USED to do. He's no longer playing for UNC so his accolades now have no bearing on our UNC players. Go find another skeleton to dig up!

  • bluerules Feb 11, 1:21 a.m.

    Tudor is a poor excuse of a sports writer. Earth to Tudor. Hariston is a non story.

  • rx74u2nv Feb 10, 10:42 p.m.

    In the D league he is playing against D league talent with D league coaching. When he faced... View More

    — Posted by modukev5

    No he was not.

    — Posted by TTCP

    Was to!

    — Posted by modukev5

    Best post here^

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