July 22, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Tyler Hansbrough hopes to jumpstart his basketball career in the same state where he first emerged on to the national scene.

The former North Carolina Tar Heels star forward signed a free agent contract with the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. Terms of the deal were not announced.

''Obviously I'm comfortable in North Carolina, but I (also) felt like this would be a good fit for me to come in and bring some energy and do what I can to win here,'' Hansbrough said during his introductory press conference Wednesday at the team's downtown arena.

The 29-year-old Hansbrough spent the past two seasons with Toronto, although he saw limited playing time. He played four seasons before that with Indiana after being selected 13th overall in 2009 NBA draft.

His best season was 2010-11, when he averaged 11 points and 5.2 rebounds and started a career-high 29 games for the Pacers. His playing time and production have decreased each of the past four seasons. He averaged 3.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 2014-15 for the Raptors.

Hansbrough is optimistic he can get back to the production he had in his early years with the Pacers.

''I feel like in Toronto my offensive role was diminished playing the five'' position, Hansbrough said. ''I feel like I can get back to that (production). In Toronto we were more guard-oriented.''

Hornets general manager Rich Cho likes what the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Hansbrough brings to the team.

''He's a guy we have had a lot of admiration for over the years (with) his work ethic, competitiveness and energy he brings night in and night out,'' Cho said. ''He's a high character guy who plays both ends of the floor.''

Cody Zeller is expected to start at power forward and rookie first-round draft pick Frank Kaminsky is slated to be his backup, so it's unclear how much playing time Hansbrough will see in Charlotte.

Coach Steve Clifford said that will be determined later in the preseason. He said Hansbrough could be used in what he termed a ''specialist'' role, seeing more action based on the matchup.

''He's a guy where if you don't have juice one night you can throw in there and he can change the intensity of your team,'' Clifford said.

Hansbrough retired as UNC's all-time leader in points (2,872) and rebounds (1,219) and helped the Tar Heels win a national championship in 2009.

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