Chapel Hill, NC, United States (4E Sports) – While Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said the 6-foot-6 junior guard P.J. Hairston earned the right to join the team for practice, he has not decided when to fully reinstate him.
“When I completely decide what it will be, I’m going to tell you, and I’ll tell you before the season starts,” Williams told reporters.
In a statement, Hairston apologized for “the mistakes that brought such negative attention to the team, the University of North Carolina and my family.”
Williams suspended Hairston on July 28 after the player had several offseason incidents, including a June arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license. In July, Hairston received a speeding ticket that included an additional charge of careless and reckless driving, which prompted his suspension.
But the coach assured that there was “no question” Hairston, who averaged 14.6 points per game last season, would play this season.
Williams also revealed that Hairston accepted his disciplinary punishment of an additional running regimen.
Hairston will have 5 a.m. conditioning runs and has run 18 more days than any other player on the team.
“You can tell by his actions — the way he works hard in the gym, the extra running — you can tell that he’s sincere about everything,” said senior guard Leslie McDonald.
Sophomore forward Brice Johnson said he’s noticed a change in Hairston.
“He’s just a lot more focused now,” Johnson said. “He’s starting to make a lot more smarter decisions now.”