NCAA BK

Former North Carolina star Hairston plans to play in D-League

Suspended North Carolina Tar Heels guard P.J. Hairston (center) watches his team warm up
P.J. Hairston sat on the bench for home games until the Northern Kentucky game on Dec. 27.
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Former North Carolina player P.J. Hairston said Friday he will play in the NBA Development League.

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In a statement, Hairston — who never played a game this season due to NCAA violations — said he submitted paperwork to play in the league Friday afternoon. He also said he is taking an online course through UNC toward his communications major and turned in his first assignment Thursday.

"I am excited to continue to pursue my degree at UNC while also pursuing my dream of becoming a professional basketball player," Hairston said. "I appreciate all the support I've received during this process and hope everyone is having a great New Year so far."

Hairston's statement comes exactly three weeks after the school decided not to seek his reinstatement from the NCAA for rules violations, including using rental vehicles tied to a felon and party promoter in Durham. He said he consulted with his family for several weeks before deciding on his next move.

There are 17 teams in the NBDL, the NBA's official minor league, with teams playing a 50-game regular-season schedule from November to April. Hairston will go on the league's waiver wire for two business days, where a team with the highest waiver priority — currently that belongs to the Texas Legends, an affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks — can claim him.

If Hairston goes unclaimed, he would then go into a player pool where any team can claim him without affecting their waiver priority status, meaning it will likely be Tuesday before Hairston knows where he'll play.

The 6-foot-6 junior swingman practiced with the Tar Heels through the fall semester. He wore a suit and sat on the bench for home games until the Northern Kentucky game on Dec. 27, a week after the school's decision.

The 21-year-old flirted with entering the NBA draft after averaging 14.6 points and shooting 40 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore, sparking a late-season surge to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game and the third round of the NCAA tournament.

Tagged: North Carolina

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