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P.J. Hairston is facing suspension this season after a rocky summer, but he has been practicing with the UNC basketball team once again.
According to USA Today, this summer Hairston has been linked repeatedly to Haydn "Fats" Thomas, a convicted felon who lives in Durham. In June, Hairston was arrested for possession of marijuana and driving without a license, but those charges were eventually dropped. Finally, on July 28 Hairston was suspended indefinitely after a reckless driving incident.
After a turbulent summer, the exact details of Hairston's punishment are still uncertain, but it would seem that his coaches and teammates are ready to welcome him back to the UNC basketball program. Head Coach Roy Williams stated Thursday, "In 26 years as a head coach, I've never made the demands on a young man that I have made of P.J. To his credit, he accepted them without question. This is just the first step towards permanently earning his place back on the roster."
Point guard Marcus Paige said of his teammate, "He's working out with us, and we still accept him. It was a big deal in the media, but we're pretty confident everyone has moved past it. We can't wait to get him back -- whenever it is."
ESPN reports that Hairston averaged 14.6 points per game last season and was expected to be an offensive force this year as well.
The leading returning scorer has shown remorse for the actions that led to his suspension. Hairston said, "I am so sorry for the mistakes I made that brought such negative attention to the team, the University of North Carolina and my family. That's not how I was brought up and it's certainly not how Coach Williams expects us to represent this program. I know I let a lot of people down, including our fans and all the people who love not just the basketball team but UNC. I will do whatever I can to regain your faith in me and make sure that I represent the school and the Tar Heels with respect in the future."
The UNC Tar Heels will begin their season on Nov. 8 with a game against the Oakland Grizzlies.