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Friday, January 10, 2014
P.J. Hairston hopes to join D-League

By Jeff Goodman
ESPN

Former North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston intends to play in the NBA Development League this season.

Hairston, who was the subject of a school and an NCAA investigation last year, appears to have decided to play for a minimal salary in the D-League rather than head overseas leading up to the NBA draft this summer.

P.J. Hairston
Several NBA executives believe P.J. Hairston could play his way into the first round of the NBA draft with good results in the D-League.

Hairston, 21, released a statement to several news outlets Friday in which he said he has enrolled in an online course at North Carolina and also has submitted paperwork for the NBADL.

"I am pursing an opportunity to play basketball in the NBA's Developmental League, and submitted my paperwork this afternoon," Hairston said in the statement.

The 6-foot-6 swingman will not be eligible to be called up by an NBA team this season. He will be eligible for the NBA draft in June.

"I am excited to continue to pursue my degree at UNC while also pursing my dream of becoming a professional basketball player," Hairston said.

Hairston was expected to be North Carolina's go-to player this season after averaging 14.6 points per game in 2012-13, but he did not play in a single game after an investigation into potential rules violations for his use of rental vehicles tied to former felon and party promoter Haydn "Fats" Thomas.

The school did not seek reinstatement for Hairston. Tar Heels team spokesman Steve Kirschner said earlier this week that Hairston wasn't enrolled for spring semester classes according to the university registrar's office.

""We are displeased with the University of North Carolina's decision not to submit the necessary paperwork to the NCAA requesting to have P.J. reinstated," the Hairston family said in a statement late last month released following the announcement. "This process has been long, and for to end without having a final decision from the governing body is a shame."

Added North Carolina coach Roy Williams in a statement: "I am extremely disappointed for P.J., his family and our team as he will no longer be playing basketball at North Carolina. P.J. made mistakes and I was very disappointed by his actions and now he is suffering the very difficult consequences. He is not a bad kid; he just made some mistakes."

According to several NBA executives, Hairston could play his way into the first round of the NBA draft with strong play in the NBADL. One NBA general manager told ESPN.com that Hairston is considered a fringe first-rounder.

Glen Rice Jr., who was dismissed from Georgia Tech, took a similar path a year ago. Rice increased his stock from a player who would have likely went undrafted, played well in the Development League, and was taken 35th last June by the Washington Wizards.