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Former UNC star dominates D-League

P.J. Hairston (second from left) rides the bench at UNC
P.J. Hairston (second from left) rides the bench at UNC
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

When the NBA draft rolls around this summer, P.J. Hairston will be just another player waiting for his name to be called. The former UNC stud is currently averaging just over 27 points for the Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks. However, Hairston's journey to this point has been anything but typical. Hairston, who signed with UNC in 2011, was dismissed from the team last year after a variety of off-the-court issues plagued the star shooting guard. Since leaving UNC, Hairston has been tearing it up in the D-League, where he has proved his ability to be a truly prolific scorer. It appears that Hairston is also more mature than he was during his time at UNC; he has stated multiple times that he regrets his decisions and is ready to move forward both personally and professionally.

"I'm a professional athlete. I have to show professionalism. It's a grown man business and I know that I have to make decisions on my own now," he professed. "It's part of the maturing stage for me and I want to show that I'm a way better person than what was assumed."

If Hairston is able to keep up his scoring assault, it is almost certain that he will be drafted by an NBA team. However, the real question is whether or not Hairston is capable of performing to his current standards for an extended period of time. Although he never averaged more than 15 points in college, footage of his recent performances suggest dramatic increases in both strength and explosiveness. While some might question the validity of his D-League competition, Hairston maintains that, if anything, the D-League is even harder than college.

“My first impression was that it was better competition, and the pace of the game was much faster than it is in college.”

Even if Hairston keeps up his spectacular play, there is still no guarantee that he will be taken in the first round: many teams are hesitant to draft players who have histories of bad behavior. Despite this, this Hairston doesn't seem to be concerned; he says that he will remain focused regardless of who drafts him and in what round.

“The past is the past. I made some mistakes and of course I regret them fully. I just know they will never happen again because I would never put myself in that situation again.”

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