Tuesday, August 27, 2013

P.J. Hairston tells Daily Tar Heel he will play

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham said recently that P.J. Hairstonwould play this season, but not in every game. And now we have the same from Hairston, the UNC junior guard who told the told the Daily Tar Heel, the UNC campus newspaper, that he will “be on the court” this season.
Great hustle by Aaron Dodson, the DTH reporter who tracked Hairston down on Monday night on some basketball courts near the Smith Center. Hairston on his Twitter account had posted that he would be playing there. After a summer of trouble, Hairston is serving an indefinite suspension. It’s unclear when he’ll play this season.
“I’m not sure how long I’ll have to sit out,” Hairston told the DTH. “I haven’t found out yet, but whatever it is I’m ready for it.”
The length of Hairston’s suspension might not be clear for a while. UNC doesn’t begin the season until Nov. 8, at home against Oakland. The Tar Heels in their seventh game play against Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. UNC’s ninth game is at home against Kentucky on Dec. 14.
UNC coach Roy Williams suspended Hairston in late July, after he received a reckless driving charge near Salisbury. That followed his early June arrest on misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and driving without a license.
Hairston also received a speeding ticket in May while driving a rental car that has been tied to Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a Durham resident and convicted felon. At the time of his arrest in June, Hairston was driving a rented 2013 GMC Yukon that Thomas paid for.
- Andrew Carter

Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/uncnow/pj-hairston-tells-daily-tar-heel-he-will-play#storylink=cpy

Thursday, August 15, 2013

UNC A.D. Bubba Cunningham: P.J. Hairston will play in 2013-14 season

CHAPEL HILL -- P.J. Hairston will play this season, but not in every game. That's what Bubba Cunningham, the North Carolina athletic director, told a group of university faculty members during a question-and-answer session on Thursday.

Cunningham on Thursday spoke at a faculty retreat for the UNC journalism school. Andy Bechtel, an associate professor in the journalism school, posted on his Twitter account Cunningham's answer when asked about Hairston, the Tar Heels' junior guard and leading scorer who has been suspended indefinitely.

"Bubba Cunningham takes a PJ question," Bechtel wrote on his Twitter account. "Will he play? Answer: 'Yes, but not all the games.'"

That was the entirety of Cunningham's answer, Bechtel later said during a phone interview. Cunningham's comments are the closest UNC has come to saying anything about Hairston's playing status for next season.

Hairston was suspended after the North Carolina Highway Patrol charged him with speeding and reckless driving late last month. That followed his arrest in Durham in early June, when he was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license. Those charges were later dropped.

At the time of his arrest, Hairston was driving a rented GMC Yukon that was paid for by Haydn "Fats" Thomas, a Durham resident and convicted felon. Hairston also received a speeding ticket in May while driving another rental vehicle, a 2012 Camaro, that has been linked to Thomas.

After he played in a pro-am at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, UNC coach Roy Williams on Wednesday declined to comment on Hairston.

"Not talking about P.J.," Williams said. "I've read about it all damn summer, I'm tired of reading about, tired of talking about it. If you want to talk about anything else, I'll talk about anything."

Cunningham, the UNC athletic director, also played in the pro-am with Williams and declined comment about Hairston. Cunningham's brief comment on Thursday was the first time that a UNC official has definitively said that Hairston will play this season.

Hairston is facing a potentially lengthy suspension, depending on whether his use of rental cars is deemed to be an extra benefit. If the use of rental cars were an extra benefit, the NCAA could suspend him from anywhere between three and nine games - or more - depending on the monetary value of the benefit. Williams said in a statement last month that Hairston would face "serious consequences."

- Andrew Carter

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

UNC coach Roy Williams 'tired' of reading, talking about P.J. Hairston

GREENSBORO -- Even after making five birdie putts during a nice round of golf with Davis Love III, Roy Williams was in no mood to talk about P.J. Hairston today after Williams finished playing in the pro-am of the Wyndham Championship.

"Not talking about P.J.," Williams said when I asked him how his conversations have gone recently with Hairston, North Carolina's leading scorer whom Williams suspended indefinitely. "I've read about it all damn summer, I'm tired of reading about, tired of talking about it. If you want to talk about anything else, I'll talk about anything."

Indeed, Hairston has created plenty of reading material this summer. There was his arrest in early June in Durham, where police charged him with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license. Both charges were later dropped, but Hairston at the time of his arrest was driving a 2013 GMC Yukon that had been rented by Haydn "Fats" Thomas, a Durham resident and convicted felon.

Hairston received a speeding ticket in May while driving another rental vehicle, a 2012 Camaro, that has been linked to Thomas. Then, in late July, Hairston was charged with speeding and reckless driving on his way to Charlotte. After that, Williams promptly suspended Hairston, a rising junior who considered entering the NBA draft before deciding to return to school.

"It's been a little hectic," Williams said of his summer, "and some things that make it not as much fun. But I've still got one of the best jobs in the world."

He later said "it's been a hard summer. No question about that."

During the pro-am, Williams played a foursome that included Love III and Bubba Cunningham, the UNC athletic director. Williams said he has known Love III since the days when he played golf at UNC.

"I was there the day that Michael Jordan broke his driver on the practice range," Williams said. "So we go back a long ways."

Amid all the stress of the summer, Williams appeared at ease on the course. Between shots he chatted with fans, signed autographs and posed for pictures.

The drama surrounding Hairston, though, remains unsettled. Even before his suspension, Williams in a statement said Hairston would face "serious consequences." If the rental cars Hairston drove are deemed to have been an extra benefit, Hairston would face an NCAA-mandated suspension of three to nine games, depending on the monetary value of the rental cars during the time Hairston drove them. In addition, he'd face additional punishment from Williams.

Williams was in no mood to discuss Hairston on Wednesday, though he said he's "anxious" for the start of the practice.

"With the new rules, we can start as early as Sept. 27, which makes the season even longer," Williams said. "I thought it was long enough beforehand. But I'm anxious. I think we've got a great group of young kids that I'm going to enjoy working with.

"This is a good release right here, getting out on the golf course, and I enjoyed the heck out of it today."

- Andrew Carter

Friday, August 9, 2013

Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones to take Oct. 25 official visit to Duke

Jahlil Okafor, the No. 1 overall prospect for the Class of 2014, will take an official visit to Duke on Oct. 25, according to an article by ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers. The Blue Devils will also host top (and only) point guard target Tyus Jones the same weekend.

Okafor and Jones, ranked No. 3 in the class of 2014, have repeatedly expressed a desire to play together in college (more on that here in my story from last month's Nike EYBL Peach Jam tournament), so the Duke staff is likely pleased they were able to schedule both prospects for the same weekend. Duke will be the last school Okafor officially visits, as his schedule looks like this: Baylor on Aug. 30, Kentucky on Sept. 9, Arizona on Oct. 11, Kansas on Oct. 18th and Duke on Oct. 25.

Jones will join him on the visits to Baylor, Kansas and Duke, and Jones's full schedule will be set next week, his mother, Debbie, said in a text message. The pair won't be present for Duke's version of Midnight Madness, Countdown to Craziness, as it's scheduled for Oct. 18th. Kentucky's alumni game is scheduled for the weekend of the duo's visit. But, Duke does have the advantage of falling last in line. And, while everything is always subject to change in recruiting, I'm expecting there to be another visitor that weekend as well. ABC: Always be closing.

Okafor will also take unofficial visits to Illinois, Michigan State and Ohio State, but each of those schools is undoubtedly unhappy they didn't make the cut for his official visit list.

Also notable in the ESPN article is the idea that Okafor and his father, Chuck, are unhappy about the rumors indicating Okafor is leaning toward Duke. It makes sense: I would imagine he doesn't want that perception affecting his experiences at other schools. I wouldn't assume that's a bad sign for Duke.

- Laura Keeley

Thursday, August 8, 2013

UNC's Dean Smith to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama will announce on Thursday that Dean Smith will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, according to an ESPN.com report.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, according to the White House, and is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
In addition to Smith, ESPN.com reported that Ernie Banks, known with affection as “Mr. Cub” for his Major League Baseball Hall of Fame career with the Chicago Cubs, will also receive the Medal of Freedom.
Smith coached at UNC from 1961 through 1997, retiring after 36 seasons, 879 victories and two national championships, which the Tar Heels won in 1982 and 1993. He guided the Tar Heels to the ACC tournament championship 13 times, and he led UNC to 11 Final Fours. At the time of his retirement, Smith was the most victorious coach in college basketball history.
In addition to what his teams accomplished on the court, Smith is remembered for the connection he shared with his players off of it. More than 95 percent of Smith’s lettermen graduated, and he fostered an atmosphere that kept players returning to campus years after they’d left school.
Smith in recent years has been suffering from a neurological disorder that has greatly diminished his memory.
Smith’s family in 2010 released a letter about his condition that read, in part: “Our dad has a progressive neurocognitive disorder that affects his memory.
“So now, he may not immediately recall the name of every former player from his many years in coaching, but that does not diminish what those players meant to him or how much he cares about them.”
Pat Summitt, the former Tennessee women’s basketball coach who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year. Other recipients who made their name in sports include: Stan Musial, Bill Russell, Billie Jean King, Muhammad Ali, Buck O’Neil, Frank Robinson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Hank Aaron.
-Andrew Carter

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

ACC basketball: Duke gets two games on Big Monday on ESPN

The ACC will be part of ESPN's Big Monday basketball doubleheader this coming season (RIP, old Big East), with Duke drawing two of the prime-time match-ups.

The Blue Devils will host Virginia on Jan. 13th at 7 p.m. and make their inaugural ACC trip to Pittsburgh for a 7 p.m. tip on Jan. 27th.

Duke and Pitt have actually split their 12 past meetings, the most recent of which was Pitt’s 65-64 win in overtime on Dec. 20, 2007 in Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils will be making their fifth trip to Pittsburgh and their first since a 78-69 win on Jan. 26, 1980.

Those will be the only conference games against the Cavaliers and the Panthers.

Here's a refresher on the other Duke basketball dates that have been announced:

Nov. 12: Kansas vs. Duke (Champions Classic)
Nov. 15: FAU at Duke
Nov. 17: Norfolk State at Duke (NIT Season Tip-Off)
Nov. 27: NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals (Madison Square Garden)*
Nov. 29: NIT Season Tip-Off finals (Madison Square Garden)*
Dec. 3: Michigan at Duke (ACC-Big 10 challenge)
Dec. 19: Duke vs. UCLA (Madison Square Garden)
Jan. 13: vs. Virginia, 7 p.m.
Jan. 27: at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

2013-14 Duke basketball ACC home games:
North Carolina
Wake Forest
Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech
N.C. State
Florida State

2013-14 Duke basketball ACC away games:
North Carolina
Wake Forest
Georgia Tech
Notre Dame
Boston College

The full Duke schedule will be announced later this fall.

Here is the full Big Monday schedule:

January 13
7 p.m. Virginia at Duke
9 p.m. Kansas at Iowa State

January 20
7 p.m. North Carolina at Virginia
9 p.m. Baylor at Kansas

January 27
7 p.m. Duke at Pitt
9 p.m. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma

February 3
7 p.m. Notre Dame at Syracuse
9 p.m. Iowa State at Oklahoma State

February 10
7 p.m. Maryland at Virginia
9 p.m. Kansas at Kansas State

February 17
7 p.m. North Carolina at Florida State
9 p.m. Oklahoma State at Baylor

February 24
7 p.m. Syracuse at Maryland
9 p.m. Oklahoma at Kansas

March 3
7 p.m. Notre Dame at North Carolina
9 p.m. Kansas State at Oklahoma State

- Laura Keeley

UNC, ACC basketball to be featured on Big Monday on ESPN

CHAPEL HILL -- ACC basketball is moving to Monday night on ESPN. And North Carolina, as you'd expect, will be a part of it.

Given the implosion of the Big East, ESPN was apparently looking for a replacement for its Monday night college basketball programming. And ESPN apparently found that replacement in the ACC.

Eight ACC games will be featured on "Big Monday," as they call it, on consecutive Mondays between Jan. 13 and March 3.

UNC will be featured three times on Big Monday - more than any other ACC team. The Tar Heels' Big Monday games are:

  • at Virginia on Jan. 20
  • at Florida State on Feb. 17
  • vs. Notre Dame on March 3

All the games will be at 7 p.m.

The ACC's full schedule is expected to be released later this month.

- Andrew Carter