It's amazing how similar P.J. Hairston's current situation is to what Glen Rice Jr. experienced last season.
Both players were on the NBA radar during their times at their respective colleges, but after a series of events which led to them both being suspended, they opted to spend their year of eligibility in the D-League to prepare themselves for the NBA Draft. A unique path to embark on, for sure.
For Glen Rice Jr., his season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers went as well as anyone could've imagined. He took the D-League by storm by becoming one of the top prospects and led the Vipers to their second championship of the millennium. But more importantly, he proved that he had matured since being kicked off of his college team. As a result, the Washington Wizards took a chance on him by drafting him in the second round with the 35th overall pick and while he's only played in 11 games for them thus far, he's made it to the Association after a tumultuous junior season at Georgia Tech and the coaching staff seems to believe that he can develop into a good role player.
For P.J. Hairston, his journey has just started. After finding out that he was unable to return to the University of North Carolina as a Tar Heel, he joined the Texas Legends in the hope of boosting his draft stock. He's only played in two games with them over the last week, but he's gotten off to a fantastic start. In his debut, he came off the bench to score 22 points in 28 minutes for the Legends and last night against the Vipers, he exploded, scoring a game-high 40 points. Hairston shot 14-for-24 from the field, 4-for-10 from three and 8-for-9 from the charity stripe. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out one assist.
|1st||11 points (3-7 FG)|
|2nd||10 points (4-8 FG)|
14 points (6-8 FG)
|4th||5 points (1-1 FG)|
What was most impressive about Hairston's performance was the multitude of ways in which he scored. 12 of his points came off of threes, a pair of which were extremely tough looks. He also knocked down some smooth pull-up mid-range jumpers and displayed a knack of getting into the paint by using his strength and solid handle to gain a step on his defender.
The different between Glen Rice Jr. and P.J. Hairston at this point has been the pace in which they've found their groove. In 42 games with the Vipers, Rice Jr. averaged a quiet 13.0 points per game, but took off in the Playoffs, when he averaged 25.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game. Hairston on the other hand, has been a terror in his first two games and has already established himself as a scoring leader on this star studded Texas Legends squad.
Hairston certainly has a lot more to prove before an NBA team is ready to take a chance on him come June 26th, but as we've already seen with Glen Rice Jr., if he sticks to the script and is on his best behaviour, anything is possible.
Hairston's Highlights (40 points, 14-24 FG)