ACC Team Previews: UNC

P.J. Hairston's offseason legal issues could hamper UNC's ACC title hopes. - Streeter Lecka

UNC is a deep, talented team. As usual. Their fortunes this year could be derailed by P.J. Hairston and his reckless driving of cars rented by felonious drug dealers. If his legal troubles stretch into the season, it could be enough to ruin their season. He'll almost definitely miss the beginning of the season, and the Tar Heels could struggle early on without his contributions.

Last Season Record: 25-11 (12-6)
ACC Preseason Media Poll: 3rd

Projected Starters:
Marcus Paige, G, Sophomore
Leslie McDonald, G, Senior
P.J. Hairston, G, Junior
James Michael McAdoo, F, Junior
Joel James, C, Sophomore

Key Reserves:
Brice Johnson, F, Sophomore
J.P. Tokoto, F, Sophomore
Nate Britt, G, Freshman
Isaiah Hicks, F, Freshman
Kennedy Meeks, F, Freshman

UNC's projected starters include Hairston, who spent the offseason getting into trouble over and over again with the law. This included an arrest for marijuana possession and driving without a license, plus a reckless driving incident. The bonus is that the car he was driving in the first incident had been rented by a known drug dealer and convicted felon. The NCAA is looking into Hairston's relationship with this man. He was suspended indefinitely by UNC, but he has been practicing with the team. The NCAA will likely punish Hairston in some way, and UNC may tack on a few extra games to that.

In truth, it doesn't mean much. At a maximum, he'll miss maybe 10 games, which will still have him returning by ACC season. Virginia fans can pride themselves in knowing that if Hairston was a UVA player, he'd have been kicked off the team a long time ago. UNC has somewhat lower expectations of their basketball players. Especially when they are the leading scorer on the team.

As usual, UNC is packed full of talent. Meeks was a McDonald's All American, as was Hairston, Paige, and McAdoo. Paige is the PG and floor leader. He isn't much of a scorer, shooting just 35% from the field, although half of his shots were 3s. He averaged just 8 points per game, but was 3rd in the ACC in assists. As we know, Roy Williams wants his team to run, and Paige is the facilitator who makes that happen. UNC plays one of the fastest tempos in the nation, and also has one of the most efficient offenses in the nation.

The Tar Heels lost two players of consequence, Reggie Bullock and Dexter Strickland. Bullock however, was arguably the Heel's most valuable player last year. He was 3rd in scoring and 2 in rebounding and led the team by shooting nearly 44% on over 200 treys. Hairston also shoots a lot of 3s, and he shoots at just under 40%. McDonald is also a dead-eye shooter, who took well over half of his shots from downtown.

McAdoo is probably the highest profile player on the team, especially considering Hairston's troubles. He's been a bit disappointing thus far in his career, but only compared to the expectations. He's been a devastating defender, and very good on the boards, but he hasn't really found his offense. By and large, he's unable to create his own shot, he isn't much of a jumpshooter and he shoots under 60% on FTs. He gets a majority of his points off the break and on so-called "garbage points" - meaning offensive rebounds and loose balls. He also turns the ball over at an alarmingly high rate.

James is listed as the projected starter at C, but could well lose that job to Meeks. James didn't exactly impress in limited minutes last year, and Meeks is a bigtime prospect. (Never mind that James was also a bigtime prospect.)

With or without Hairston, UNC will be one of the nation's premiere teams. If his legal issues continue to hamper himUNC will still likely finish in the top 25, but may not be able to hang with the top tier ACC squads.

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