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Player Profile: The Freshmen

In the ramp up to the 2011-12 basketball season, Tar Heel Fan will be profiling key Tar Heels who will likely be major contributors this season.  Today’s profile looks at the incoming freshmen class.

11-Stillman White: PG, 6-0, 160 lbs
14-Desmond Hubert: F, 6-9, 205 lbs
15-P.J. Hairston: SG, 6-5, 220 lbs
21-Jackson Simmons: F, 6-7, 205 lbs
43-James Michael McAdoo: F, 6-9, 220 lbs

Outlook For This Season

In reality there are only two of these five expected to make an impact. Stilman White was brought on late in the recruiting season as insurance for the PG slot. White may see some time in games during the first two months as Roy Williams likes to rest players early on. Desmond Hubert is considered to be very raw but is really long will serve as practice fodder for the first team. Then there is Jackson Simmons who came in as a preferred walk-on but was given a scholarship when a slot opened up. Simmons was a prolific rebounder in high school but like Hubert will have a large role in practice than in games.

P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo are elite players and extremely talented. McAdoo is one of four Tar Heel frontline players projected as a first round NBA Draft pick. Think about that for a moment. McAdoo will come off the bench and he is considered a lottery type of player. Because UNC has so much experienced talent on the front line in Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes, McAdoo’s impact will be somewhat lessened. However bringing a player with his talent off the bench is a definite upgrade over Justin Knox. In short I don’t think McAdoo will necessarily be Marvin Williams but will be solid giving UNC quality depth upfront. On the wing, Hairston is the one freshman UNC really needs to do what he does best: Shoot three-pointers and make them. Hairston is a shooter but also has the athleticism and strength to be a scorer from anywhere on the court. With Leslie McDonald out UNC will have Reggie Bullock, Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall as the primary deep threats though I am expecting to see less perimeter shooting from Barnes this season. Dexter Strickland could improve but if UNC has designs on a national title Hairston needs to join Bullock and Marshall in the 35-40% accuracy range from beyond the arc.

Main Concerns

Experience is the obvious choice here though with so many younger players thrust into the limelight in college basketball these days, experience is not necessary to make an impact. White, Simmons and Hubert will have very limited role. Hairston and McAdoo will have more expected of them and therefore need to acclimate quickly to the college game. In the case of both I would say how well they play defense is a more important aspect than the offense. UNC will have one of the better defensive teams in the Roy Williams era in Chapel Hill. It is important when players come in off the bench, they can maintain the defensive level established by the starters. In Hairston’s case, his defense is going to dictate how much he plays with Bullock being given an edge in that department thus far. On the offensive end, McAdoo will need to acclimate to the physicality of the game and Hairston could see issues shooting the ball. Freshman shooter sometimes see a drop off with their shot when they move to the college level. One thing working to Hairston’s advantage is he played in prep school last season not high school. That meant going against a little stiffer competition that he may have seen otherwise. Conditioning is the other concern for freshmen, especially in Roy’s up-tempo system.

Wish List

In some ways what McAdoo will end up contributing will be gravy though he could end up playing a role in crucial games where foul trouble plays a role. UNC needs 18-20 mpg from McAdoo to spell Henson and Zeller but unlike Knox last year truly be an offensive threat so the Heels can keep the foot on the pedal. Hairston is the player who can really give UNC a boost. The Heels need three point shooters and if Hairston comes in the mid-30% range shooting threes along with Bullock doing much the same, the offensive balance missing last season will be there. In essence Hairston and McAdoo fill out UNC’s eight man rotation which will carry the load when March rolls around.

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