P.J. Hairston practicing with UNC

Updated: September 23, 2013, 11:27 PM ET
By Jeff Goodman | ESPN.com

North Carolina point guard Marcus Paige said teammate P.J. Hairston has been practicing with the team and shouldn't be a distraction despite the fact that Hairston's playing status remains unclear.

"It was more of an issue in the summer than it will be going into the season," Paige told ESPN.com. "He's in good shape right now, and I think he's in a good place and is ready to move on."

Hairston, the team's leading returning scorer, was suspended in July following a turbulent offseason. Charges of marijuana possession and driving without a license were dropped. However, the NCAA was looking into Hairston's relationship with convicted felon Haydn "Fats" Thomas, who had rented the car Hairston was driving at the time of his June arrest.

Hairston also was cited for reckless and careless driving in July, and was subsequently suspended indefinitely.

"We've moved on," Paige said. "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."

Coach Roy Williams has not commented on the length of Hairston's suspension, but athletic director Bubba Cunningham told a group of professors at a faculty retreat in mid-August that Hairston would play this season, "but not all the games."

Hairston averaged 14.6 points per game last season and was expected to be North Carolina's primary offensive option again this season.

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