Roy Williams is not sure when he will fully reinstate his suspended shooting guard, but 36 days before its’ first game North Carolina senior P.J. Hairston has earned the right to rejoin his team in practice.
The 2013-2014 season officially kicks off with practice this Friday. Williams will allow Hairston to join the team after the 6-6 guard has embraced his offseason disciplinary regimen. Hairston’s punishment included 5 a.m. conditioning each day and 18 more days of running than the rest of the Tarheels.
Hairston, who averaged 14.6 ppg last season, was suspended on July 28 after several offseason incidents, including a June arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license. A gun was found at the scene but it was not tied to Hairston. Those charges were dropped after Hairston completed a drug assessment program.
In July, Hairston received a speeding ticket that included a charge of careless and reckless driving, prompting his suspension.
Williams says that there is “no question” Hairston will play this season, but he is not sure when.
“When I completely decide what [the length of the suspension] will be, I’m going to tell you, and I’ll tell you before the season starts,” Williams said at Thursday’s media day.
Until then, Hairston will have to continue to prove himself in practice and additional conditioning. There is no question that UNC will need a huge season out of him if they want to make a strong push in March and April. Hairston is the top returning scorer for the Tarheels and, along with James Michael McAdoo, is one of their two best professional prospects.
North Carolina starts the season with a Nov. 1 exhibition against UNC Pembroke. They open the regular season Nov. 8 against Oakland.