Late Night proves: Heels need PJ
Posted October 26, 2013
Updated October 27, 2013
In a way, it was fitting. The first made bucket of Carolina's first public scrimmage was a three-point shot by PJ Hairston.
It's fitting because, let's face it -- UNC's season will go as Hairston's goes. And we still don't even know when he'll be cleared to play.
Hairston led the scoring in the Blue-White scrimmage, tallying 20 points in the conclusion of the Heels' Late Night with Roy event. At times, he seemed to be the only perimeter scoring threat on the court. That's why Carolina needs him so badly.
He received a thunderous ovation when introduced - an ovation that seemed to be the crowd's way of expressing relief that, at some point this season, Hairston will be back on the court for the guys in light blue. That same feeling of relief echoed as the crowd cheered Hairston's first 3-pointer of the scrimmage, then another, then another...
Hairston won't start the season n the lineup - and the length of time he'll have to sit out has yet to be determined - but after a tumultuous summer, it does appear he'll be contributing for Carolina this year.
There were times when that seemed in doubt. As Roy Williams pointed out, most of Hairston's problems were self-caused.
As for the rest of the Tar Heel team, Kennedy Meeks impressed in his de facto Smith Center debut. Meeks has already lost more than 30 pounds since joining the team, and he didn't seem to struggle with the fast pace of play - something that had been a concern when he checked in at 316 pounds.
Meeks' fellow freshman Nate Britt looked comfortable running the offense, but his scoring may be slow to develop. Britt looks the part of the classic Carolina "pass first-shoot second" point guard. Still, it would not surprise me to see Britt playing alongside Marcus Paige a lot this season, allowing Paige to play the 2-guard.
Roy Williams did announce that the NCAA is reviewing Leslie McDonald's status. McDonald appeared in an online ad for designer mouth guards, and he may have to serve a suspension as a result.
Meanwhile, JP Tokoto will have to sit out the Tar Heels' preseason game against UNC-Pembroke. Tokoto played in a sanctioned summer pro-am league in his home state of Wisconsin, but there was a paperwork error. Tokoto will not miss any regular-season time, but he did sit out the Tar Heels' closed scrimmage with Vanderbilt.