An embattled P.J. Hairston stood alone on the outdoor courts in front of Ram Village Monday night, palming a basketball and putting up a few shots.
Moments earlier, the junior guard had been sitting inside his apartment when he heard the dribbling of basketballs outside his window. The itch returned, and after sending a tweet that he’d be playing on the courts, Hairston headed outside.
“I finished my homework,” he said. “I was sitting in the room bored, so I was like, ‘Well, I hear people playing outside all the time.’
“I figured one of these nights I’d come out.”
Hairston’s fate following an indefinite suspension is still up in the air, but he told The Daily Tar Heel that he believes he’ll be suiting up for the Tar Heels this season.
“Yeah, I’ll be on the court,” he said. “I’m not sure how long I’ll have to sit out. I haven’t found out yet, but whatever it is I’m ready for it.”
UNC team spokesman Steve Kirschner said there is no update on Hairston’s playing status.
Hairston’s heavily scrutinized summer began with a June 5 Durham license checkpoint that resulted in charges of driving without a license and marijuana possession. The charges were later dropped July 22, but the implications from the traffic stop reverberated throughout the rest of his vacation.
Hairston was pulled over with two passengers, Miykael Faulcon and Carlos Sanford, who were also charged with marijuana possession.
Reports later surfaced Hairston was driving a 2013 Yukon rented by Haydn “Fats” Thomas, and a speeding ticket issued to Hairston in May occurred when he was driving a car rented by Catania Farrington, who shares a Durham residence with Thomas.
After a summer of silence, interrupted only to issue a statement saying that Hairston would face “serious consequences,” coach Roy Williams indefinitely suspended Hairston on Aug. 18 following a reckless driving charge in Salisbury.
As Hairston suffers the consequences of his actions, he said he’s taking steps forward to put himself in a better position to return to the hardwood.
“I just have to prepare myself mentally,” he said. “Just try to keep myself around positive people for the most part, then just having someone in my ear talking to me and giving me advice. But other than that, I’ve just been trying to stay positive.”
But for now, Hairston must stick to the concrete courts outside of his apartment, with the Smith Center towering nearby, until his future is decided.
“Everybody sees me playing in the Dean Dome,” he said. ?“I can just walk right out my door and play ball outside, which is how I grew up playing ball. It’s not bad to reflect on childhood in any kind of way.”
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