Getting to a North Carolina game has proven to be difficult for Jairus Hamilton.
Ice storms, car trouble, rescheduled games and state of emergencies have all kept Hamilton from returning to Chapel Hill.
On Saturday, for the first time in nearly a year, Hamilton was back in the Smith Center.
And he liked what he saw.
“It was a really good visit and Carolina played well,” said Hamilton. “I thought it was going to be a close game, a big-time game, but UNC just went out and handled their business. I was impressed with their offense and defense. I’ve been trying to get up there for a while because Coach (Williams) has been coming to watch my games and showing support, so I wanted to show my support back by coming to one of his games.”
A 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward from Concord (N.C.) Cannon School, Hamilton received a UNC scholarship offer in February 2016. He stayed on the UNC radar during the summer, before Roy Williams watched him several times this past December and January. After UNC's win on Saturday, Hamilton met with Williams and the UNC staff.
“He (Williams) just has been saying he really sees me at Carolina and has been explaining my role,” said Hamilton. “They’ve been telling me to keep up the good work and that they hope I’m a Tar Heel in two years. Coach (Williams) said I’ve improved a lot. I think I’ve gotten better with my leadership. I’ve been more talkative, helping my teammates out and pushing them to get better. My shot is looking better, though it could improve more, but really I've just been finding more ways to score. I did a lot of weight-room work and stretching over the last few months to really improve my flexibility and it’s helping.”
During the game, Hamilton sat with friend and 2018 UNC commitment Rechon "Leaky" Black, but kept his eyes on two UNC players in particular.
“I’m looking at their wings and how they fit in their offense," Hamilton explained. "I’m looking at Justin (Jackson) and Theo (Pinson). Justin played extremely well. All-around he’s improved a lot, and his jump shot is great. Theo really looked like he's getting back into it. He's a great passer and he is scoring now too."
Hamilton said UNC, Arizona, Wake Forest and California are schools making him a priority. He plans to take all five of his official visits and make a decision in the fall.
Because of Black and 2017 UNC signee Brandon Huffman, who were Hamilton's teammates on the AAU circuit last summer, the Tar Heels could have an advantage.
"I think it helps UNC that they're there," said Hamilton. "I'm close with them, I’ve played with them already and I already know how things would likely work out. I still talk to Leaky a lot and our dads are really close friends."Hamilton added that he is likely to return for UNC's game against Duke in two weeks.