P.J. Hairston's offseason incidents led to an indefinite suspension. Now, UNC has a decision to make.
By LAUREN BROWNLOWFS Carolinas
Since North Carolina wing
P.J. Hairston was arrested after police found drugs and a gun near the vehicle he was driving on June 5, news has continued to trickle out -- and not much of it good. But at least all, or most, was related to that incident.
Now, less than one week after it was announced that all charges stemming from that arrest would be dropped, Hairston is back in the news for all the wrong reasons.
On Sunday, Hairston was pulled over on Interstate 85 near Salisbury and cited for speeding and reckless driving. He was going 93 miles per hour in a 65-mph zone, according to police.
It was the last straw for head coach Roy Williams, who suspended Hairston indefinitely a few hours after the incident occurred.
Williams issued a statement a few weeks ago saying that he was not going to suspend Hairston yet, and even when the narrative police report was made public there was still no follow-up statement. There was no statement accompanying the news of Hairston’s indefinite suspension, either. Williams’ previous statement, in which he mentioned “serious consequences” for Hairston’s “serious mistakes", is probably explanation enough.
It’s unclear what Hairston’s future will be on the team at this point.
Obviously, he wasn’t suspended simply for the speeding ticket, but rather an accumulation of incidents that put the talented rising junior’s decision-making abilities in question.
And legal problems aside -- right now, Hairston only faces a May speeding ticket in addition to this one -- there are considerable potential NCAA issues to deal with. Hairston was found to have been driving rental cars belong to Haydn “Fats” Thomas, which will likely be seen as an illegal benefit. He will almost certainly miss some time for that alone. (Hairston was pulled over on Sunday driving his girlfriend’s car, but the May speeding ticket and the June arrest both involved Thomas’ cars.)
It stands to reason that even though Williams didn’t suspend Hairston a few weeks ago when he made his statement, he put him on a form of probation and that this was the last straw. Hairston needed to keep a low profile. Clearly, going 25 miles over the speed limit is not the best way to do that.
The Tar Heels' roster does not feature another wing with Hairston’s shooting ability, and they definitely need him next year. But Williams dismissed another sharpshooter from the program a few years ago (Will Graves) when it was clear he’d had enough. Much less was known about that case -- it was called a violation of team rules -- but Williams doesn’t often dismiss players from his team. Williams’ players don’t often have embarrassing incidents like Hairston has had this offseason, though.
Hairston’s future on the team will likely be decided behind closed doors between Williams and Hairston, not to mention by the NCAA if they find a violation.
But all anyone can really say right now is that Hairston continues to make things more and more difficult on himself in the lead-up to a season that was supposed to be his showcase for the 2014 NBA Draft.
Now, the NBA should be the last thing on his mind.