P.J. Hairston’s offseason was well-documented, as the North Carolina junior guard couldn’t stay out of trouble. Even though it is unclear when Hairston will take the floor this season, he did appear in front of the Tar Heel faithful in uniform on Friday night for the program’s annual Late Night with Roy.
Despite his off-the-court issues this summer, Hairston drew the loudest ovation from the fans inside the Dean Dome during player introductions according to Andrew Carter of the News & Observer. The cheers only continued for Hairston during the Blue vs. White scrimmage with Hairston — who led the Tar Heels with 14.6 points per game last season — leading all scorers with 20 points during the 20-minute scrimmage that ended in a 50-50 tie.
“I think it was something that he [Hairston] probably appreciated,” North Carolina head coach Roy Williams told reporters on Friday night. “I did, too. He’s had a tough, tough time – the majority of it caused by himself. But he still has had a tough, tough time. And I liked the way he just came out and waved at everybody and touched his heart.
“It wasn’t any gyrations or any dancing, pounding his chest kind of thing.”
Hairston was not made available to the media.
On Sept. 26, Hairston was cleared to practice, although Williams has yet to announce how many games he will miss. Williams added that the NCAA will have some say in the suspension. The Tar Heels could end up playing Louisville in the fifth game of the season. That potential matchup will be followed by a game at Michigan State on Dec. 4 — part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge — and a home game against Kentucky on Dec. 14.
Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.
On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.
One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.
As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).
And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.
While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.
And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.
St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.
Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.
St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.
The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?