Leading up to Duke basketball’s first game of the season Nov. 8 against Davidson, The Blue Zone will preview all the expected contributors on this 2013-2014 squad, beginning with the freshmen Monday and ending with the seniors and grad students Friday.
- Year: Senior
- Height: 6-foot-8
- Position: Forward
- Last year's key statistics: 2.6 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 12.7 MPG
Offensively Hairston has grown over his four-year collegiate career. Slowly but surely the Fredericksburg, Va., native has developed his outside jumper to the point where it maybe a legitimate weapon for the Blue Devils this season. On the boards, Hairston is often smaller than his opponent, but he makes up for it in physicality and perseverance. After slimming down and bulking up over the summer, Hairston could be even more active in the paint defensively, getting rebounds he never used to be able to corral. Where Hairston struggles is managing his fouls. The forward averaged 2.4 fouls in 12.7 minutes last year—a rate of 7.7 fouls committed per 40 minutes.
Role on the team: Hairston will likely be the first big off the bench once again his senior season. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has already anointed frontcourt players Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson starters, leaving little room for Hairston in the first unit. Where Hairston will be utilized is in relief of Jefferson, a similarly undersized big being asked to play the five. Having an energy guy like Hairston can only be a good thing for a Duke team looking to run at every opportunity. The new, slimmer Hairston should have no problem running the floor and pushing the pace. Offensively, if Hairston's jumper has taken the next step forward, he could be a nice floor spacer to allow Hood, Parker and Quinn Cook to get into the lane and make plays that way. He won't be a Ryan Kelly-type, shooting 3-pointers to get his points, but he could be an option outside of the paint. Fouls could once again be Hairston's nemesis. Playing behind another foul-prone big in Jefferson, it is imperative that Hairston plays clean defense as a senior.
NBA player comparison: Hairston's game is similar to that of Orlando Magic power forward Jason Maxiell. Maxiell stands at just 6-foot-7, but you wouldn't know it from watching him play. A physical force in the paint, Maxiell has earned himself a reputation as a solid defensive player and rebounder. The eight-year NBA veteran doesn't have the jump shot Hairston has been developing, but the other aspects of their games match up nicely. If Hairston plays at a Maxiell level on defense and on the boards he should have a very nice senior season at Duke.
Projected statline: 4.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 15 MPG
Check back later today for previews of Tyler Thornton and Andre Dawkins.
Players we've already previewed: Jabari Parker, Matt Jones, Semi Ojeleye, Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee, Alex Murphy, Quinn Cook
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