P.J. Hairston is not only one of the best shooters in North Carolina, but likely one of the top long-range bombers in the country, and he proved that on Saturday at Dave Telep's Carolina Challenge.
The 6-foot-5 strongly built wing went to work at the Challenge and in the first game he rained three-pointers, buried step in jumpers and even hit the glass for offensive boards.
"I played pretty good," Hairston said. "I could have played better, but I just tried to do what I could to help the team win.
"I was kind of feeling it there for a second," Hairston continued. "I tried to take it [to the rim] more. If I get my rhythm and I can start working it in to the inside, my rhythm really comes from the outside, so that's why I was trying to drive more and then shot."
Hairston, a standout at Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley, led his high school squad to a 26-4 record and into the quarterfinals of the playoffs, where they eventually fell to Reggie Bullock's Kinston (N.C.) High team.
"I really stepped it up from last year when I was a freshman," Hairston said. "People tell me all the time I don't look like a freshman anymore. My body has matured and basically that was my main focus."
On the recruiting front, it sounds like Hairston is down to a pair of programs. North Carolina and Florida have made him a priority and they are the last two schools still standing.
"Basically my choices are really between North Carolina and Florida," he said. "They are my main two choices because it doesn't seem like Wake Forest is that interested, so I'm just focusing on Florida and North Carolina."
Still just a sophomore, Hairston isn't in constant contact with either coaching staff because of NCAA rules that don't permit college coaches to call recruits until after their sophomore season.
"I don't really talk to the coaches that much," Hairston said. "The main time I talk to them is when I go to the games."
"Florida has [offered] and I'm hoping Carolina does," he added.
When pressed on his interest in North Carolina, Hairston wasn't shy. He said the two have reciprocated interest.
"We really like each other," Hairston said. "There's a mutual interest between me and North Carolina."
Bullock, a current North Carolina commit, and Hairston have developed quite a relationship. Bullock is actually spending the weekend at Hairston's Greensboro home for a couple of weekend events.
"He's spending the night at my house this weekend and is staying with me all weekend because we have the camp today and we have practice tomorrow for AAU."
"My mom was talking to him last night," he said. "She's a big Carolina fan and she was trying to tell him to sway me to go to North Carolina, and he said he was trying and started laughing."
Bullock Glad To Be Committed; Working On Hairston
The first game of the Carolina Challenge matched up Bullock and Hairston, but the two refused to guard each other. They each claimed an AAU team rule, that states the two couldn't defend the other.
Regardless, Bullock, a 6-foot-6 smooth wing, showed off an effortless stroke and a nice mid-range pull-up jumper, but he said he was focusing on passing.
"It went well," Bullock said. "I tried to come out and play hard and help other players get scholarships and share the ball and put them in the situation I am."
Bullock, a North Carolina commit, remains excited about his college decision.
"I'm glad I made it early and went ahead and got it out of the way, so I can go ahead and focus on basketball skills and school work and just keep working hard."
Over the course of this season, Bullock has been to a handful of UNC games and has been following them closely throughout the NCAA tournament. He weighed in on the big match up with the Sooners in the Elite 8.
"We've got to win this Elite 8 game against Oklahoma," he said. "I think it'll be a good match up. I don't think Blake Griffin and Tyler [Hansbrough] will guard each other though. They'll probably put Deon [Thompson] on Blake."
Bullock, who will play AAU ball with CP3, will play alongside Hairston on the AAU circuit and the two have become close friends. Their friendship and camaraderie was evident as they hung out throughout Saturday. And although Bullock admitted that he'd like to see Hairston in Tar Heel blue, he said he respects whatever Hairston makes.
"Basically any decision [he makes] I'm good with," Bullock said. "He's my boy and he's always going to my boy. I love him like a brother. He's a good player and a nice dude to hang out with."
As far as Hairston's game, Bullock has a lot of respect for it, and is especially impressed with Hairston's range and shooting ability.
"He's got a nice stroke and he can shoot from anywhere. You can't give him anywhere because he'll shoot. He's a good player and hopefully he'll get in to some big time camps and be one of the top players in the nation."