After a long and drawn out process, the University of North Carolina and head basketball coach Roy Williams have decided not to pursue reinstatement for talented wing P.J. Hairston. Hairston has not played this season for the Tar Heels, missing the first 10 games. UNC is now set to move forward on the season without Hairston, leaving them where they have been this entire season: without one of the best players on their team and in the country.
Carolina’s successes and failures this season have all come without Hairston, meaning that the Tar Heels have proven they can win key games despite his absence. Williams has been without the team’s top returning scorer from last season all season, so really the loss isn’t all that troubling on the surface. When looking into the problem further, this means much more for both Hairston and the Tar Heels going forward.
Hairston won’t be reinstated as Carolina won’t be looking to submit the proper paperwork to the NCAA as they did with Leslie McDonald. This means that not only with UNC be without Hairston for the rest of the season, it’s highly unlikely for him to be reinstated for next season as well. This leaves Hairston with only one option.
This option is to declare himself for the 2014 NBA Draft. Before he decided to return to school, Hairston was projected to be drafted in the late first round or early second round of the 2013 draft. Based on most projections for the 2014 draft, Hairston could land anywhere in that range and possibly risk going undrafted entirely. The problem with declaring for the draft is that unlike the rest of the players who will enter the draft, Hairston won’t be playing, leaving him at a disadvantage. While the rest of the draft class will continue to play games up until they have to declare, the most Hairston can do is to work out and train. Working out and training can be helpful, but it’s hard to gauge a player on those aspects alone. By the time the draft comes around, Hairston will be without game tape for over a full calendar year. That doesn’t necessarily bode well for a borderline prospect.
Here’s where the whole thing gets confusing. The NCAA never suspended Hairston for violations, that was UNC in fear that if they played him and they later declared him ineligible, the NCAA could wipe out all wins because Hairston was in the game. The reason Hairston didn’t play is because UNC never filed paperwork to ask for him to be eligible, mostly because the information they and the NCAA have stated it would be nearly impossible for Hairston to be reinstated. Now, the option to transfer is not a option Hairston has. This is due to the fact that UNC felt they couldn’t get him eligible. His only option is to go into the NBA Draft even though the NCAA never officially declared him ineligible. UNC wasn’t confident in the ability to have Hairston reinstated, thus ending his college career all together, forcing his hand.
It’s a confusing process, but that is the option Hairston is left with.
Hairston has only one decision to make, one that isn’t a very tasty option. Obviously he is disappointed he won’t be able to play for UNC this season, but there’s nothing he can do to change that.
Hairston isn’t the only one this affects, either. North Carolina, despite playing a very up and down season so far this season, has been able to utilize Hairston despite not having him play in games. Hairston has still been able to practice with the team, giving the Tar Heels a great option for the scout team, giving Carolina that added talent to help them prepare for their opponents. Having talented players to play on the scout team is a highly underrated tool for a college team. It helps to simulate the top talent that a program such as North Carolina is accustomed to facing on a weekly basis, especially in conference play. It will be incredible interesting to see how the Tar Heels fare without that extra body and talent to prepare against at practice.
Many will want to point fingers at North Carolina for not handling the situation properly, but the only blame that can be placed is on Hairston himself. He put himself into those unseemly situations this offseason and Carolina was just trying to clean up the mess. Unfortunately, the information they received made them believe that applying for Hairston’s reinstatement made them believe reinstatement would not be a possibility, putting them in the situation they are currently in.
North Carolina had to make the difficult decision to essentially cut ties with P.J. Hairston. Now Hairston must the consequences of his actions and try his luck in the 2014 NBA Draft.