Shot at Redemption: Hairston Looking To Create “Buzz”

It turns out embattled former UNC shooting guard P.J. Hairston won’t be leaving the state of North Carolina to embark on his NBA career. The Miami Heat traded Hairston to the Charlotte Hornets in a deal involving Connecticut star Shabazz Napier.

***Listen to the story***

It was a bit of a psyche-out for Hornets fans late Thursday night as the franchise, in dramatic fashion, ended up swapping Final Four MVP Napier for former Tar Heel Hairston.

The cards all seemed to fall in place for a trip to the Queen City for the man who scored 707 points in 71 games for Carolina in two seasons on the floor.

Last season, Hairston played for the Texas Legends in the NBA Development League after UNC chose to not file for the junior’s reinstatement from the NCAA.

Head Coach Roy Williams was notably disturbed by the Hairston saga last summer that spiraled out of control and ultimately ended in the demise of Hairston’s career at the college level.

But the UNC coach says he’s excited for P.J. and that he’s “happy that he will play in state and for another Tar Heel, Michael Jordan.” Famously, Jordan is the owner of the freshly re-minted Hornets.

Hairston is the 15th Tar Heel under Coach Williams to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. Overall, the Greensboro native is the 46th first round pick from UNC.

Coach Williams, who has always maintained tremendous confidence and belief in his former players, says “life has given him another opportunity and he will take great advantage of that chance.”

It will be fascinating to see what Hairston makes of this second chance. Apparently he’s done enough to convince Hornets general manager Rich Cho that he’s grown up and learned from his past mistakes.

Hairston says playing in the D-League really matured him and that he now has a “smaller circle” of outside acquaintances, keeping his family closer.

His play on the court, though, has certainly been sparkling. With the Legends, Hairston averaged 21.8 points on 45 percent shooting from the field.

Nothing is a done deal, but with the lack of long-range shooting in Charlotte’s roster, Hairston may add some more significant “buzz” to the Hornets next season.

Chancellor Folt Involved In Hairston Discussion

CHAPEL HILL – UNC Chancellor Carol Folt says the big decisions about athletics that ultimately affect the University come down to the chancellor. These comments were made in a WCHL News Special with Jim Heavner.

“I think it’s ultimately (in) the authority (of) the chancellor,” Chancellor Folt says. “The chancellor is the responsible person. I have pretty strong feelings about that.”

***Listen to Part III of WCHL’s News Special with the Chancellor***

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Chancellor Folt says she’s not going to be involved in the winning and losing of each team. However, she says when it involves the compliance issues and rules or the proper punishment when rules are broken, she needs to be in the mix.

“I don’t try to manage every single part of the budget line, but I certainly am going to talk to people about the way we manage our money” Chancellor Folt says. “I’m going to work with Bubba on the issues, and I’m also going to respect his ability to manage his division. So, it’s a conversation that you have. You talk quite a bit, and you decide where the moment is that (is) your part of that ultimate decision. But, in the end, I have to feel very comfortable about the major decisions that were made.”

UNC basketball’s P.J. Hairston was suspended over the summer after an arrest for possession of marijuana and driving without a license as well as a reckless driving and speeding charge. UNC decided to leave the severity of punishment up to the NCAA; the NCAA has not yet announced how many games Hairston will sit out.

Chancellor Folt says she has been in the conversations surrounding the Hairston situation. She says in any situation, there’s a process that has to be followed to make sure it’s handled properly.

“I would say that Bubba Cunningham would come to me and say, ‘this is the situation; this is my opinion on how to go forward’,” Chancellor Folt says. “And then we would seek opinion of a number of senior leaders depending on that–not down to the details of every NCAA infraction–but when we’re dealing with something that might be a very high-profile issue, or if Bubba has concerns about it, or if we think that this is an important aspect about how Carolina is going to make decisions going forward, I would be involved in it.”

Tune in to the WCHL Morning and Afternoon and Evening News to hear the interview with Chancellor Folt in four parts Monday through Thursday this week.

To read the other articles in this WCHL News Special series with the Chancellor, navigate below.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Hairston’s Court Appearance Pushed To September

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

DURHAM – Suspended North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston’s court appearance on a speeding charge has been continued until next month.

Hairston was due Friday in a DurhamCounty courtroom. Magistrate Steven R. Storch said his appearance was rescheduled for Sept. 13.

Hairston was cited for speeding May 13 in a vehicle rented under a woman’s name sharing the home address of Haydn Patrick “Fats” Thomas.

Hairston also was arrested June 5 and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license at a checkpoint in Durham. Thomas’ name appears on the rental records for the car Hairston was driving at the time.

Those charges were dropped last month.

Hairston was suspended indefinitely from the team earlier this week after he was cited again for speeding, this time near Salisbury.

Car Hairston Driving When Pulled Belongs To Friend

RALEIGH, NC – The car North Carolina leading scorer P.J. Hairston was driving when cited for speeding and reckless driving belongs to a female friend.

The Associated Press confirmed Monday the 2008 Acura that Hairston was driving Sunday belongs to Randi Lee Furr, a Charlotte woman whose social media posts indicate she is close friends with the basketball player.

A state trooper clocked Hairston driving 93 miles per hour on Interstate 85 near Salisbury. The trooper’s citation said the UNC-Chapel Hill player was weaving in and out of heavy traffic.

Tar Heels spokesman Steve Kirschner on Sunday announced Hairston’s indefinite suspension from the team. It was the latest off-court misstep for Hairston, who was recently cited for traffic violations and marijuana possession while driving rented vehicles provided by a convicted felon.

Hairston Charges Dropped, Punishment Still To Come

CHAPEL HILL  – Your local basketball team caught a break late last week, but it’s not out of the woods yet.

According to multiple media reports, the Durham County marijuana possession and driving without a license charges against rising junior star P.J. Hairston have been dropped.

Friday, the charges were dropped because Hairston reportedly received and completed a drug assessment. Upon completion, the state decided not to go further with the charges. Hairston also reportedly presented his current license in order to have the other charge dropped.

A statement last week by Head Coach Roy Williams said that punishment was unclear but that he and Hairston had discussions in which the player “knows he has made serious mistakes and there will be serious consequences as a result.”

Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communications, Steve Kirschner says Roy Williams and UNC Athletics do not currently have a timeline for commenting further on the situation.

Cunningham: “I Will Support The Appropriate Disciplinary Measures”

CHAPEL HILL – In response to high volumes of rumblings surrounding the recent arrest of UNC basketball’s P.J. Hairston, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham released a statement saying there’s nothing to say yet.

“The athletic department compliance staff and I are fully aware of recent media accounts related to our men’s basketball team. We take these matters very seriously and are looking into these reports and the inferences they contain with all due diligence. It is my practice not to comment on the individuals involved or the details surrounding these reports until we have sufficient understanding of the facts involved. We are still gathering information, learning information from other sources, and we will not comment until we have a strong grasp of each individual situation. Where the facts show mistakes in judgment and/or actions, Coach (Roy) Williams will take and I will support the appropriate disciplinary measures. 

“The integrity of the University of North Carolina is of paramount concern to all of us and is the principle on which Coach Williams and the athletic department operate each and every day. The most responsible course of action, however, is to withhold judgment and comment until we are confident we have the facts to do so. I appreciate everyone’s understanding of that and we will bring these matters to resolution as soon as possible.”

Hairston was arrested on June 5 after being found driving without a license at a traffic stop in Durham. He and two other people in the car were charged with possession of marijuana.

The arrest report of Hairston also listed a 9mm gun, though reports indicate it was found on the ground near the car.

NCAA Seeks Information Regarding Hairston, Blackstock Relationship

CHAPEL HILL – The NCAA says it wants more information about the relationship between UNC junior guard P.J. Hairston and a person with ties to NBA agents, Rodney Blackstock.

Carolina Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham told the News and Observer that UNC officials are communicating with the NCAA. Blackstock is a UNC-Greensboro graduate and has reportedly known Hairston for years.

According to USA Today, Blackstock paid thousands of dollars to an AAU coach that were “on behalf of sports agents and financial advisers” who wanted Ben McLemore. McLemore plays at Kansas and is rumored to go as a top draft choice next week.

Cunningham said UNC’s conversations with the NCAA are part of an ongoing investigation regarding Blackstock.

UNC still hasn’t commented on the arrest of Hairston after he was charged with being in possession of marijuana and driving without a license. He already had a court date set for August 2 for a speeding charge. A court date of August 6 was added for the two charges from early June. Senior Associate A.D. Steve Kirschner said the University and Head Coach Roy Williams will release a statement when enough information has been gathered.

P.J. Hairston Arrested On Marijuana Charge

DURHAM – UNC junior P.J. Hairston was arrested Wednesday and charged with possession of marijuana.

Hairston and two others, Miykael Faulcon and Carlos Sanford, were stopped at a license check Wednesday night on Holloway Street in Durham. He was also charged with driving without a license and was released on a $1,000 unsecured bond. The two other men were also found in possession of marijuana.

UNC Senior Associate A.D. Steve Kirschner said the University and Head Coach Roy Williams will release a statement when enough information has been gathered.

Hairston is already due in court in Durham on August 2 for a pending speeding charge. He decided to pass up the NBA draft this year after leading North Carolina in scoring.

Duke, And The War for Wiggins


Some sobering        thoughts on Car olina’s bad — really bad — loss to Duke Saturday night:

  • The Tar Heels lost the battle but they may have won the War for Wiggins. More on that later.
  • Larry Fedora has a new goal to hit Duke with a two touchdown lead (14 points) next fall before the Blue Devils know what happened.
  • The UNC students didn’t have to sleep in tents for two months to watch that.
  • Carolina got so many bad shots out of its system that the Tar Heels might actually think about trying to score from some kind of half-court offense. It was an utterly composure-less performance.
  • If they need a lesson, they can watch the tape of Mike Krzyzewski and his staff having Carolina’s small lineup scouted so well that they saw the immediate mismatches and called out plays as the Devils crossed half court.
  • Carolina discovered a weakness in the Blue Devils – in case the teams should meet again (like next Saturday in the ACC Tournament). They can’t throw the lob to Mason Plumlee from half-court. The one time they tried the ball went into the stands. Anywhere inside that, it’s a slam dunk.
  • The fans that stayed to the end avoided the traffic that poured out of the Smith Center throughout the second half.
  • And the Tar Heels didn’t have to suffer a long, somber flight home to think about this one.
  • The UNC women can gain a measure of revenge against Duke in the ACC Tournament championship game Sunday (just kidding, expect a blow-out there, too).
  • And, indeed, the crushed and demoralized men can have another crack at Duke by winning their first ACC tournament game next Friday (definitely not kidding).

Now for Andrew Wiggins, the best high school player in the country who is a senior and still hasn’t committed to any college. The 6-7 son of former NBA star Mitchell Wiggins is likely a one-and-done, but UNC wants him badly to regain national prominence next season. Wiggins, who is also considering Florida State (where his father went to school), Kansas and Kentucky, was at the game, sitting on the baseline in front of the student riser section.

And, just coincidentally, there were some  different  wrinkles to UNC’s senior night besides sending Dexter Strickland, walk-on Frank Tanner and three managers off with a rose and a rise from the crowd in a pretty over-cooked pre-game ceremony.

A whole new set of video features seemed tailored to what Wiggins is reportedly thinking about besides playing 25 games on national TV for a team with a chance  to win the NCAA championship   .

There were Sean May, Tyler Hansbrough, Marvin Williams and Harrison Barnes – all NBA lottery picks – talking about how much they loved Carolina. Barnes, especially, had his own highlight reel of high-flying dunks.

And there was this weird video of the Carolina players dressed up in costumes and horsing around in the locker room. Could it be that Wiggins loves the Harlem Shake (which I’ve since learned what that was supposed to be).

For sure, Williams didn’t have to tell Wiggins after the game how much the Tar Heels need him. Wiggins got a bird’s eye view of that from where he was sitting

A few more words about a game to forget.

P.J. Hairston, who made the only three-pointer on UNC’s 1-for-15 night, launched a shot from halfway to Durham on the Tar Heels’ first possession. He fired four more scud missiles before finally making one with 5:00 left in the game, cutting the deficit to 63-49. If only they hadn’t spotted Duke those 14 points.

Williams said he actually thought Carolina might still win at that point, but then Duke got two offensive rebounds and hit the last of its five treys to kill even ol’ Roy’s hopes (this game was basically over five minutes in).

You will likely never again see Reggie Bullock go scoreless in the first half on 0-for-4 shooting against Duke’s Tyler Thornton, starting in Coach K’s three-guard lineup to try to shut down Bullock and Hairston, who eventually combined for 22 points (17 in the second half when they were truly  moot points).

Ryan Kelly, who torched Miami and Virginia Tech for 54 points in his return from a re-broken foot, was largely used as  a  post-up decoy, so Carolina could not double team Mason Plumlee, who was the star of the second half and finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds to rekindle his ACC Player of the Year  candidacy.  

Seth Curry was the star of the first half, when Duke made its first six shots (Curry three of them) and bolted to the 14-0 lead that caused Williams to call maybe the earliest timeout of his coaching career. Curry had 18 in the first half and did not miss a shot until 8  minutes remained on the clock.

Duke shot 70 percent in the first half, while Carolina misfired at 27 percent. The Blue Devils went 5-for-9 from the arc; the Tar Heels went 0-for-8 (ouch!) and shot so poorly for the game (34 percent) that they wound up with seven more offensive rebounds than Duke.

The Blue Devils went back to Durham as the likely No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and the odds-on favorite to win their 11th ACC title in the last 15 years in Greensboro next weekend.

To do that, they will probably have to beat Carolina again. This time Williams might  try his really big lineup and see what happens. The results could not be much worse. Hopefully, Wiggins liked what he didn’t see.

All Game Photos By Todd Melet