For the past several weeks, rumors had circulated that Hairston would forgo his final two years of college to declare for the NBA draft. But Chapelboro.com sportswriter Art Chansky says he might have made the right choice.
“I wasn’t surprised,” he says. “I thought he’d come back, but he had a right just like everyone else to test out his pro prospects. But I didn’t see his name on any mock draft in the first draft.”
Hairston announced his final decision Friday evening, after discussing his options with head coach Roy Williams, and his immediate family—including his mother, Wendy Mailey. In a written statement, he says, “I value the experiences I have had over the past two years in Chapel Hill, and hope to continue to grow under Coach Roy’s guidance. Coach always says ‘When you focus on the team during the season, I will support you in the off-season.’ This is my way of supporting coach, my teammates and the Tar Heel community.”
Last year, Hairston was instrumental for Carolina basketball, scoring a team-high average of 14.6 points per game and hitting double figures 27 times. He was also one of the team’s biggest powerhouses from three-point range, making 89 shots from beyond the arc—that’s the second-highest single season total in UNC history.
College players have until April 28 to declare for the NBA draft; Neither Tar Heel sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo nor junior guard Reggie Bullock, who have both been rumored to be considering entering, have officially announced whether or not they’ll be returning to the UNC court.
Chansky says it would serve both players well to make the same decision as Hairston.
“At the end of last season, Reggie Bullock was one of the best players in the ACC, but I haven’t seen his name high on a mock draft either, so it’d be beneficial for him to come back and continue his growth,” he says. “James Michael McAdoo was projected a lottery pick in the NBA based on his potential. After last season, he dropped to late first round based on his performance. What that proves is he needs to improve his inside game and get bigger and stronger physically.”
And UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says Hairston will be critical to the team’s success in the coming seasons.
“I’m excited for the team, pleased for PJ, and looking forward to next year,” he says.