News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

July 12, 2009

'Til It's Over: Hansbrough, Hibbert give Pacers glimpse of future

TERRE HAUTE — You might have heard of the Indiana Pacers’ 2009 first-round draft pick. He was on the television once in a while during his four-year career at North Carolina.

Tyler Hansbrough, who wrapped up a successful NBA Summer League on Friday, gives Larry Bird and the Pacers a player with more star power than anyone on the current team.

While Danny Granger has emerged into a go-to scorer, Hansbrough gives Indiana a much-needed low-post scorer, who will show that he can also shoot from the perimeter. Too much weight should not be put on the rookie league performance, but Hansbrough impressed, pairing with 7-foot-2 teammate Roy Hibbert to provide a glimpse of the Pacers’ frontcourt future.

Indiana finished 5-0 in the rookie league after a Friday win in which Hibbert had 16 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Hibbert and Hansbrough only knew one another from when Georgetown knocked UNC out of the NCAA Tournament in 2007, but he likes what he sees.

“I told him he’s going to like playing with me,” Hibbert told NBA.com. “I’m a passing big. I like to pass the ball, and he likes to pass as well. I think we mesh well together. I can’t wait for him to go out there and show people what he can do.”

Hibbert was overall unimpressive in his rookie year last season, but he’s only 22 years old and actually younger than Hansbrough.

As the all-time leading scorer in Atlantic Coast Conference history, Hansbrough will translate to the NBA as a scorer, which is fantastic, but the Pacers must improve defensively to be relevant in the Eastern Conference. Apparently, Bird has taken one step in that direction with the signing of former Duke player Dahntay Jones, whose toughness on the wing was a key ingredient for the Denver Nuggets last season.

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