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Thursday, November 14, 2013
Roy Williams: 'It's what it is'

Associated Press

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- P.J. Hairston, North Carolina's leading scorer last season, and senior Leslie McDonald will miss their second straight game because of NCAA eligibility concerns when the No. 12 Tar Heels play Holy Cross on Friday night.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Thursday the school and NCAA "are still working together" in an ongoing process. He said there is no timetable for a decision.

P.J. Hairston
Junior guard P.J. Hairston will not play against Holy Cross on Friday as the NCAA continues to review his eligibility. "I'm honestly extremely frustrated," North Carolina teammate Marcus Paige said. "... It would just be nice to know, so we can move on."

"It's what it is," coach Roy Williams said Thursday. "Everybody's trying to do their best. We're trying to move along."

Authorities twice cited Hairston during the offseason while driving a rental vehicle linked to a felon and party promoter, raising the possibility of an improper benefits violation.

The school hasn't specified McDonald's issue, though UNC had to send a letter this summer ordering a company that makes designer mouth guards to stop using McDonald on a website promoting its brand.

McDonald had made at least one social media post last year about wearing one of the company's mouth guards. NCAA rules prohibit athletes from endorsing or promoting a company or product.

Both players missed last week's opener against Oakland, then the Tar Heels had a week off during which the school had hoped to get the issues resolved. UNC (1-0) will play twice in three days as part of the Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament with no answer on the duo's status.

The Tar Heels will play Belmont on Sunday.

The players' absences leave UNC thin on the perimeter and without its two best 3-point shooters.

Hairston, a 6-foot-6 junior, averaged nearly 15 points last season and shot 40 percent from 3-point range. McDonald is a career reserve who averaged about seven points last season but was set to contend for a starting role.

Both players have been practicing with the team, though usually as reserves.

"They've been great teammates through all of this," Williams said. "They've been wonderful in practice, they're pushing the other guys. They've been quality teammates every day. But I think everybody feels for them right now."

Sophomore wing J.P. Tokoto thrived in his first start with a career-high 13 points, showing improved shooting range in the 84-61 win against Oakland.

In addition, Williams started freshman Nate Britt at the point and moved last season's starter, sophomore Marcus Paige, to play more at shooting guard. Paige responded by hitting four 3s and scoring 14 points.

"I'm honestly extremely frustrated," Paige said of the uncertainty around Hairston and McDonald. "I know a lot of us are. It's tough. It would just be nice to know, so we can move on. But that's not in my power, so that's all I've got to say about that."