Hairston Adjusts to Hargrave

With "home" 65 miles away in Greensboro, P.J. Hairston had to settle for a different type of in-home visit from North Carolina coach Roy Williams last Thursday.

Williams stopped in on Hairston's practice at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. Hairston and Williams spoke for about 15 minutes before practice and five minutes afterward before the UNC coach continued on to Norfolk for an in-home visit with the other Tar Heel commitment, James McAdoo.

"He came up when we were playing pick-up," Hairston said of Williams. "Basically he was just checking in on me."

The two didn't speak long but they surely had a lot to catch up on. After spending his first three years of school at Greensboro Dudley High, Hairston transferred to Hargrave this year looking for a challenge. Hairston arrived on campus Aug. 23 and is already getting settled in at his new home away from home.

"It's going good," Hairston said. "It's not as hard as I expected it to be. It's a little different than (high) school because of the marching and the uniform."

The marching Hairston referred to takes place before breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dressed in a military style uniform consisting of a gray collared shirt, blue pants with black stripes and dress shoes, Hairston and his classmates march on the way to each of their meals.

"I'm getting used to it," Hairston said. "It's not really a big thing."

Hairston also starts his day considerably earlier this fall than he did last year. At Dudley, Hairston slept in until nearly 8 a.m. At Hargrave, he has to be dressed and ready to leave for breakfast at 6:15 in the morning.

After breakfast, Hairston has an hour of down time before classes start at 7:55 a.m. Then he goes to class until 12:15, has lunch, takes his lab classes, goes to basketball practice and eats dinner before finishing his day with a two-hour study hall that lasts until 9:30 p.m. From there Hairston has 30 minutes to get cleaned up before lights out.

"When I first got here (it was tough)," Hairston said. "But now, I'm starting to get used to it. So it's not a big thing for me now."

Hairston has also made a quick transition in the classroom. He said the classes at Hargrave are similar to the ones at Dudley and he hasn't had any problems.

"If you pay attention, it's not really that hard," Hairston said. "The classes are easy so far. So it's not really that much of a difference."

When people think of a military academy, their mind usually goes to push-ups, pull-ups and wind sprints. But Hairston said the military requirements haven't been too difficult. The basketball practices however have pushed him physically. With several Division I commitments on his team, Hairston said the practices have lived up to his expectations.

"It's real competitive, especially for pick-up," Hairston said. "There's a lot of intensity, too, because everyone is trying to work hard and get that spot. There's a lot of competition."

Hairston said he transferred to Hargrave so he'd have people to push him harder and force him to get into shape. He said he's slimmer -- tipping the scales at 217 -- and has noticed a difference in his conditioning.

"It's gotten me in shape. That's the main thing," Hairston said. "We run a lot."

While he misses his friends at Dudley, Hairston says transferring to Hargrave was definitely the right choice. He can always keep up with friends through Facebook and text messaging, he said, but basketball is serious business.

"I think it's benefited me a lot," Hairston said. "I'm trying to get ready for college which is another level. I think it'll help me a lot in the long run."

Hairston expects to see Williams again at another one of his practices in the coming weeks and then again at a scrimmage between Hargrave and Pfeiffer University. Hairston will also be on campus for his official visit October 14 for Late Night with Roy.

"I'm just looking forward to the atmosphere, being there with the fans who are going to be cheering for me next year," Hairston said. "It'll be a lot of fun. I'm just looking forward to a good time."

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