2011's P.J. Hairston Talks Recruiting

With many fans focusing on the class of 2010 at this weekend's NBA event, several of the better 2011 kids are looking to make or solidify their reputations against the best of the best from the rising senior class. One of the top talents from the state of North Carolina is among them, and spoke to TDD about recruiting and more.

Rated as one of the top scoring guards in the class by Scout.com, Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley High standout P.J. Hairston has seen his stock rise tremendously over the course of the early evaluation period. Measuring out at 6-foot-5, and tipping the scales at 215 pounds, Hairston is a prolific long range shooter and has the ability to drive the lane and finish despite absorbing a heavy amount of contact.

Now, at the NBA Player's event, Hairston has put his skillset to the test against many of the top players from the class of 2010 with a respectable level of success. Unfortunately, an injury has sidelined him for the rest of the event.

"The competition level has been really high, having a lot of the best guys from 2010," said Hairston. "Obviously, it's no fun having to sit out the rest of the time I am here, but once I get healthy I'll come back ready to play."

Ready to play and likely impressing a number of college coaches - many of whom have already jumped in with scholarship offers including Arizona, Florida, Wake Forest, Memphis, Maryland, and others. In addition, local powers Duke and North Carolina have been in contact and expressing interest. And, as with most high major recruits, the rumors have started with every Hairston appearance at various college arenas throughout the season.

"The thing is...I really want to visit everybody. Everybody always assumes that because I went to a lot of UNC games this season that I was automatically going to Carolina, which isn't the case. I went to a lot of Wake Forest games as well. Both of them are pretty close to my house, and I had a chance to go watch some good basketball. I didn't want people to assume that just because I was at Carolina games that I was all set to go there. I want to see Duke as well, and I want to keep my options open. I like Duke a lot, and I'm actually trying to get back there another time or two to see more of the program and campus."

While he's yet to schedule another visit to Durham, Hairston has certainly been hearing from Duke's future players over the weekend.

"Josh [Hairston] and I go way back. We are always joking around together saying that we could be cousins or something. Andre [Dawkins], we're real cool as well. It's always me, Andre, Josh, and some other guys who are all just really good friends. As far as Duke goes, those guys don't pressure me. They would all love to see me there, but they are cool about things. They aren't always on me about it."

In addition the connection with the future of Duke basketball, Hairston admits that he's also got a sentimental link to the history of the program as well.

"I actually grew up a Duke fan, which probably surprises a lot of people. I really liked Shane Battier when I was growing up. He could really shoot it, and that is one of my main things -- I try to be a really good shooter. When he and Jason Williams were there, that's when I really started liking Duke."

Still, with no offer on the table from either program, the Heels and Blue Devils have some stiff competition on the recruiting front as programs such as Maryland, Georgetown, Wake Forest, Memphis, and Florida have all been in touch recently. With Billy Donnovan's program considered as a major player. One of the pitches out of Gainesville happens to be the amount of playing time Hairston could expect in the fall of 2011.

"That's certainly one of the things I'm looking at. I want to have an idea of who is going to be there at my position when I get there. With Duke and North Carolina, they are going to have some great players at my spot when I get to school. With Florida, I don't think they are recruiting anyone at my position besides Kenny Boynton and Austin Rivers and Rivers is more of a point guard. The coaches are telling me they think Kenny will be gone by the time I get to school if I go there."

Such recruiting pitches are commonplace these days, and Hairston admits that he's heard and seen a lot so far. However, he's in no rush to make a decision and will likely take some time before moving on to the next step in the process.

"Right now I'm open. I like a lot of schools, and am just trying to keep my options open. I'm going to, eventually, narrow down my list - maybe by the end of my junior year. I want to be able to concentrate on some schools and then make a good decision."

With over a year to go before he makes the first cuts, Hairston says he's more focused on improving his game and earning a lofty spot in the national rankings so that he can arrive on campus - wherever that may be - in the Fall of 2011 and make an impact. Much like the players he competed against in the first two days of the Camp.

"It's been a cool experience here - playing with guys who are considered the best. It's nice that they know my name now and I'm on the same level with them as a player. It's great playing against guys who are more experienced because I know that if I keep working hard I'll be in their position next year."

Interview conducted at NBA Players' Camp, 2009 by Steve Clark.

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