P.J. Hairston

UNC’s P.J. Hairston hurt in practice, won’t play versus IU


North Carolina will be down one of its top wings for Tuesday’s game against Indiana.

ESPN.com’s Robbi Pickeral is reporting that sophomore forward P.J. Hairston injured his knee in practice on Sunday and was doubtful to play. Now, the program’s official Twitter account announced he will not play in tomorrow’s game against the no. 1-ranked Hoosiers. Hairston did not even make the trip to Bloomington. Coach Roy Williams didn’t sound very positive from the beginning.

“Right now, I don’t think he’s going to practice today,” Williams said. “If he doesn’t practice today, he’s probably not going to play tomorrow.”

Hairston was averaging 10.8 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Tar Heels, who are coming off their third place finish in the Maui Invitational. The injury occurred during dribbling drills, according to teammate Dexter Strickland. The team doesn’t believe the injury is serious.

The loss of the 6-5, 220-pound Hairston will hurt the Heels on the perimeter and in the paint. Hairston’s hit 12 three’s so far this season, tied for second on the team, and is third on the team in scoring despite coming off the bench for all six games so far this season.

Though his best attribute may be he’s versatility, and that’s the biggest loss, per this quote from Williams.

“He’s the only guy (at the wing) that’s worked at the 4,” Williams said. “Nobody else has.”

A guard-heavy rotation might be the way to go with Hairston out, with reserves J.P. Tokoto, Frank Tanner and Luke Davis getting more minutes.

With Hairston out, this could work out well for UNC, with more guards being on the floor to take on Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and role players like Remy Abell. Though you definitely can’t discount Hairston’s role on the team. It does take a little luster of this heavyweight matchup.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.