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North Carolina received good news on Friday when the school announced that leading scorer, P.J. Hairston would return for his junior season.
“I have spent a lot of time with my family over the past couple of days discussing school and my future and I have decided to return to the University of North Carolina for my junior year,” Hairston said in a school statement. “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. Go Heels!”
The 6-foor-5 sophomore was moved into the starting lineup following a 87-61 blowout loss to No. 8 Miami on Feb. 9. In those final 13 games, Hairston averaged more than 18 a game in the Tar Heels four-guard offense.
“Throughout this process, it has been amazing to watch P.J. utilize the values we have taught him,” Hairston’s mother Wendy Mailey said. “I am proud that he took the initiative to weigh the impact of short-term gratification versus long-term success to come to his decision to stay in school. I’ve watched him continually mature and learn from each lesson he has been faced with over the past two years. And now, his commitment to furthering his education, and to his coach and teammates, further exemplifies his growth.”
On Sunday it seemed less likely that Hairston would declare for the draft. Roy Williams still has questions to be answered, especially regarding the statuses of Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo. Also, UNC — along with Kentucky, Florida State and Kansas — is still in the mix for the nation’s top prospect, Andrew Wiggins.
The Tar Heels graduate guard Dexter Strickland, but add size in the frontcourt with incoming center Kennedy Meeks and power forward Isaiah Hicks. Oak Hill Academy point guard Nate Britt also joins for the 2013-2014 season, as another play-making guard for Williams.
Hairston averaged 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds per game.
Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne