On Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA announced that North Carolina guard Leslie McDonald had been cleared, effective immediately. He missed nine games and will have to pay $1,783 to the charity of his choice for receiving impressible benefits.
Sources informed Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports McDonald was expected to be cleared, but the source was also said that P.J. Hairston is unlikely to play a game this season for the Tar Heels, according to the source.
In the statement the NCAA released on Wednesday, the last line read, “At this time, McDonald’s reinstatement request is the only one the NCAA has received from North Carolina.” That doesn’t offer much optimism for Hairston, who led the Tar Heels in scoring last season.
Hairston had a well-documented summer. He was pulled over twice by the police, both times he was driving vehicles rented by Fats Thomas, a convicted felon, who last month reached a plea deal for a previous arrest.
In July, Hairston was pulled over by authorities and cited with reckless driving. It was shortly thereafter that he was suspended indefinitely from the team.
McDonald averaged 7.2 points per game last season for the Tar Heels. Hairston, who elected to return to Chapel Hill for his junior season, could declare for the NBA draft a source told Yahoo Sports.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)