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June 17, 2012Carolina guard Leslie McDonald had to miss all of last season because of a knee injury suffered in the annual Durham summer league.
Coach Roy Williams said that McDonald plans to return to the league and play again, and Williams said it is with his blessing.
"The only way to become a better basketball player is to play," Williams said. "If he had some reasons why he didn't want to play, I'd go along with it. But he told me about it, and I said, 'I've got no problems with it.'"
Williams said that when McDonald went down, he was shooting the ball the best he had since coming to UNC.
"Last year one of the [UNC] camp coaches had Leslie in his gym as a counselor," Williams said. "He said, 'Let's watch Leslie shoot.'
"Leslie went around and made 17 in a row. Then four or five weeks later, that coach saw Leslie had torn up his knee, and it just killed him."
P.J. Hairston of Greensboro came to Carolina with a well-deserved reputation as a great outside shooter. But by season's end, he would have had a tough time convincing people of his credentials.
He made just 27 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Rising junior Reggie Bullock also suffered through a tough freshman year until it finally ended with a knee injury. Bullock is confident Hairston will regain his touch.
"P.J. is my best friend on the team, so I talk to him about everything," Bullock said. "And I would say it is about getting enough [repetitions] up to be able to knock that shot down. I know my freshman year, I struggled at being able to knock the shot down.
"I was in that same struggle that he was. I told him to keep shooting, keep getting a lot of reps up and it will start falling. You need a daily routine of getting enough shots up on your own, to be consistent."
The opportunity, Bullock said, will be there.
"With players like Harrison moving out, he knows he has to be that strong guy to step up for us this year," Bullock said.
The freshmen will be in school this week, and Bullock said there is one in particular he is interested in seeing.
"One of the players I talk to on a daily basis or every two days or three days is J.P. Tokoto," Bullock said. "He's like a little brother to me. I talk to him about everything. He's just ready to get here and work. I've never seen him play in person.
"To actually play against him in pickup and see his tendencies, what he likes to do, where he likes the ball, is going to be good for me. He's going to be a person for me competing against in practice. I'm just ready for him to get here and for us to compete."
Williams said that he will continue to recruit players who may leave after one season, but he is not going to take it to the extent that Kentucky has.
"I said that I am not in favor of recruiting five guys," Williams said. "But I've said from day one, I want to recruit Marvin Williams. I want to recruit Brandon Wright. But I don't want to recruit five guys.
"John [Calipari of Kentucky] is comfortable with that," Williams said. "I'm not comfortable with that."
Carolina will have a mixture of youth and experience next season, with most of the experience on the perimeter. Defense is the area inexperience usually hurts a team, particularly early in the season.
Williams said he believes he will have the players to work with to make this a good defensive team.
"Reggie really came along very strongly defensively," Williams said. "Dexter [Strickland] has already shown that he is really good defensively. Marcus Paige, I think is potentially a very good defensive player. James Michael [McAdoo] came along defensively. Desmond [Hubert] can block shots and can slide his feet.
"Leslie has come along defensively. Brice Johnson can block some shots. Joel [James] has tremendous size. J.P. is tremendously athletic. So we have some material there that is really young, and we have some material there that is not as young."