Since this is a Duke Blue Devils, this means I’m going to stick about 12 Duke players into the top-20, right? Come on, have faith in Big Duke Balls. We have integrity…some. Let’s go ahead and welcome our first Blue Devil to the “Top-1oo Returning Players in the ACC.”
2010-11 STATS: 1.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg (.361/.565/.000)
They call him a “Lance Thomas” clone and for good reason. Hairston, like Thomas, is a tweener forward. He prefers the power forward spot, but he is a bit undersized at 6-7, 200 pounds. Hairston is also a high-energy guy, often playing the role of a spark plug off the bench (just like Thomas).
In his limited time on the floor, Hairston never tried to force anything, often relying on a decent mid-range jumper, almost always from the baseline. He doesn’t feel comfortable putting the ball on the floor, even though he did in high school, especially from the foul line.
On the defensive end, he never was a strong straight up defender and he was certainly not a shot blocker (one all of last season). Instead, he tried to use his smaller frame and quickness to an advantage. He often maneuvered around his opponent, attempting to front the player to deny the ball.
Moving forward, Hairston will need to continue to extend his range, hopefully capable of hitting a three from time to time. While his jump shot has good form, he needs to work on a quicker release. He’ll also need to work on his ball handling skills. He has good feet, so he can beat bigger defenders to the basket.
He also needs to continue to bulk up allowing him to do more work on the boards. If you’re a PF who can’t rebound, you’re not going to get a lot of playing time. Speaking of…
This is the big difference between Josh Hairston and Lance Thomas. When Thomas was a freshman and sophomore, Duke had a paper thin front court, thus Thomas played heavy minutes. In fact, he started 18 games as a freshman and 28 more as a sophomore.
On the flip side, Hairston struggled for playing time as a freshman and looking ahead, he will again struggle to get his minutes.
Mason Plumlee, Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly will be the main rotation of big men. This leaves Hairston battling for time with incoming freshman Marshall Plumlee, who is a true center.
Obviously Hairston could find some minutes at the small forward spot, battling with two more incoming freshman, Alex Murphy (who can also play some power forward) and Michael Gbinije. However, Duke also has a ton of guards, including three shooting guards (Austin Rivers, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins) who are too good to be spending a lot of time on the bench.
At best, I expect Hairston to be stronger and better, yet he’s still a year of way from becoming an important contributor.
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