P.J. Hairston

Kyle Anderson UCLA

Kyle Anderson, Mitch McGary among 2014 NBA Draft winners

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It’s an annual pastime when it comes to drafts, with many looking to declare teams and players to be either winners or losers. While those answers won’t be known for a couple years (if not more, in some cases), below is an attempt to peg seven teams and players who did well for themselves Thursday night.

Among those winners are a talented distributor who went a little lower than expected, and two players whose off-court issues did not hurt their draft prospects in the end.

– Kyle Anderson (30th to San Antonio): There were some questions as to where Anderson would land, and as the first round moved towards its conclusion it looked as if the 6-foot-9 guard would still be on the board in the second round. But the reigning NBA champion Spurs grabbed Anderson with the final pick of the first round, meaning that not only will Anderson get a valuable guaranteed deal he’s also with a franchise that has consistently shown that it can develop talent.

– Utah Jazz (getting Dante Exum with the 5th pick):  After the three players rated highest on most draft lists (Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid) were taken Orlando selected Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, allowing Utah to take the player it long coveted without having to give up anything. That’s a win.

– Doug McDermott (picked 11th by Denver; traded to Chicago): While Denver wouldn’t have been a bad spot for McDermott, his being traded to a franchise looking to make a run at a title is positive development for him. And one of his best skills, the ability to shoot, is something the Bulls can certainly use after struggling offensively last season.

– Mitch McGary (21st to Oklahoma City): McGary’s college career came to a premature end due in large part to a failed drug test during the NCAA tournament, and there were some concerns in the immediate aftermath that he could wind up in the second round. But McGary never slipped that far, as he was selected 21st overall by a franchise in Oklahoma City that has experienced a lot of success in recent years.

– P.J. Hairston (26th to Miami; traded to Charlotte): Hairston’s issues with NCAA rules resulted in his being ruled ineligible, leading to his having to take the D-League route to the NBA. The result: Hairston was selected by the Heat, becoming the first D-League product to go in the first round. His rights were then traded to Charlotte, but either way that’s not a bad end to a year that was anything but smooth.

– Canada: For the second consecutive year a Canadian was taken with the top overall pick, as Cleveland selected Andrew Wiggins. In total four Canadians were selected, and while that figure is disappointing (there were hopes that Melvin Ejim and Khem Birch would be taken in the second round), having the top pick two years in a row is a positive for hoops north of the border.

– UCLA and Michigan (three draft picks apiece): Just two programs can claim to have three players picked in the 2014 NBA Draft, with the Bruins seeing all three of theirs being selected in the first round. Leading the way in draft picks is a nice selling point for UCLA head coach Steve Alford and Michigan head coach John Beilein, especially with the July open recruiting periods right around the corner.

2014 NBA Draft Preview: Six first round prospects that will be busts

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The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than a week until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we take a look at six first round prospects from this draft will think will be busts in the NBA:

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1. Zach LaVine, UCLA

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 13), Chad Ford (No. 18)
  • Scott Phillips: “LaVine was head-and-shoulders above every other prospect participating in the NBA DraftCombine, but not many potential lottery picks were going through the drills. He’s a ridiculous vertical athlete with a good one-dribble pull-up, but he has no clue how to play the game of basketball. LaVine looked lost in half-court settings and has a step learning curve ahead of him if he wants a long NBA career.”
  • Raphielle Johnson: “Excellent athlete, but I’m not sold on his ability to run a team at this point in time. Maybe he’ll be best as a combo, but we’ll see.”
  • Rob Dauster: “Zach LaVine will win any dunk contest that he enters. He’s got three-point range, too. But beyond that, LaVine’s essentially a blank canvas when it comes to basketball. On the one hand, that means that whoever drafts him can mold him into the player they want. It also means it’s up to LaVine to put in the work to reach his admittedly high ceiling. Drafting him is essentially betting on his work ethic.”

2. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 19), Chad Ford (No. 20)
  • RD: “Ennis is dropping on draft boards as we get closer to the big day, and it makes sense. The NBA is trending towards big, elite level athletes at the point, and for all Ennis does well, he’s not on that level athletically. He knows how to play, so I think he’ll be able to hang around for a few years, but I don’t know what he does at an NBA level.”
  • SP: “Tyler Ennis had a wonderful freshman year at Syracuse, but I don’t think he’s a big-time NBADraft prospect. He’s an average athlete with average shooting percentages (41% FG, 35% 3PT) and that doesn’t even factor the giant question mark he is on the defensive end. With so many elite NBA point guards, I don’t see how Ennis makes a big impact in the league without a good first step or an ability to finish at the rim.”

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3. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 6), Chad Ford (No. 8)
  • RJ: “What happens when teams force him to hit perimeter shots? That’s the big question.”
  • SP: “For being such a highly-touted player and floor leader, Smart never got better at Oklahoma State and never won a NCAA Tournament game in two seasons. His power game won’t translate nearly as well in the NBA and his jump shot needs to improve a lot for him to be a complete weapon on offense.”

4. Mitch McGary, Michigan

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 30), Chad Ford (No. 26)
  • Terrence Payne: “Six NCAA tournament games in 2013 launched him into the lottery, but he has played eight games in the last 15 months.”
  • RD: “The offensive skill set at this time is a concern. But he works hard, so maybe strides can be made in that area.”

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5. Jerami Grant, Syracuse

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 27), Chad Ford (No. 40)
  • RD: “Grant is an elite-level athlete, but he’s stuck in that spot where he’s not really a small forward but not big enough to play along the front line. Does he have a post move? Can he play on the perimeter? What position does he guard?”

6. P.J. Hairston, North Carolina/D-League

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 23), Chad Ford (No. 24)
  • SP: “Besides the off-the-court questions that Hairston will face from every team, he’s a bonafide shot-jacker that rarely passes — Hairston averaged less than an assist a game in over 32 minutes a game in the D-League — and is prone to mental lapses on the defensive end. The D-League is filled with professional players, but the structure of the league, especially defensively, leaves a lot to be desired and his scoring numbers could end up being inflated because of this.”

Could P.J. Hairston opt for the D-League this season?

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Although former North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston will no longer play for the Tar Heels after last week’s announcement from the University that they wouldn’t seek his re-instatement from the NCAA, the 6-foot-5 junior guard still has options to play basketball this season, including playing in the NBA’s Developmental League.

According to a story from Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Hairston would be eligible to immediately play in the D-League if a team were interested in signing him. Bonnell spoke with a D-League spokesperson to clarify the rules as they pertain to Hairston:

According to D-League spokesperson Joanna Shapiro, if a player is ruled ineligible by the NCAA (as Hairston was) and he’s at least 18 and his high school class has graduated (applicable), he’s eligible to sign a D-League contract.

Shapiro added that once a player signs a pro contract, D-League or otherwise, he immediately becomes eligible for the NBA draft the following spring.

While it is likely that Hairston will enter next June’s NBA Draft, the guard can now weigh the option to become a professional basketball player immediately in the D-League to prepare for the draft, if he so chooses.

If Hairston were to pursue a stint in the D-League, he wouldn’t be the first dismissed college player to make the jump to the D-League before entering the NBA Draft. Former Georgia Tech forward Glen Rice Jr. entered the 2012 D-League draft in November of that year following his dismissal from Georgia Tech in March of 2012 and went on to become a second-round pick — 35th overall — in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Rice Jr. helped lead the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the D-League title in his one season in the league while averaging 29 points, 11.5 rebounds, four assists, three steals and 3.5 blocks in the D-League Finals and also significantly boosting his NBA Draft stock in the process.

Hairston wouldn’t play a full season in the D-League like Rice Jr. — since it is already in the middle of the season — but P.J. could get back in game shape and show NBA scouts that he is talented enough — and mature enough — to warrant a selection in next June’s draft.

No decision has been made on Hairston’s future since the family released a statement last Friday.

P.J. Hairston’s UNC career comes to an end as the school will not apply for his reinstatement


When it was announced prior to North Carolina’s game against Texas on Wednesday night that senior guard Leslie McDonald was eligible to play, many wondered when there would be a decision regarding the status of junior guard P.J. Hairston. However unlike McDonald, North Carolina had yet to apply for reinstatement on Hairston’s behalf, instead continuing to evaluate his case.

On Friday the school announced that it has made the decision to not take that step, and as a result Hairston’s career at North Carolina has come to an end.

“Unfortunately P.J. made a number of mistakes that placed his eligibility at risk and the University’s joint review with the NCAA made it clear that seeking reinstatement for P.J. would not be possible,” director of athletics Bubba Cunningham said in the release. “The University thanks him for his contributions to Carolina Basketball.

“We also want to thank Coach Williams for the way in which he has held the team together over the early stages of this season despite not having two veteran players and for the level of care and concern he has for the young men on his team,” continued Cunningham. “We are glad that Leslie McDonald was reinstated and look forward to watching his Tar Heel teammates and him compete the rest of this season.”

In two seasons at North Carolina Hairston averaged 10.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, scoring a team-high 14.6 points per game as a sophomore. With Reggie Bullock moving on to the professional ranks Hairston was expected to be a major piece for the Tar Heels thanks to his scoring ability. But thanks to a series of missteps off the court Hairston found himself suspended indefinitely.

Hairston did what head coach Roy Williams required of him punishment-wise and was able to regain his spot on the roster, but doing that and convincing the NCAA that he should be eligible to play are two entirely different things. North Carolina came to that conclusion, and on Friday they announced that they’ll be moving forward with the players they currently have.

“Since summer, P.J. has been outstanding with our basketball program and with his schoolwork. He went through an extremely intense conditioning program with flying colors,” Williams said of Hairston in the statement. “He has been called a ‘perfect teammate’ by one of our other players. He has dominated our practices and at times has been as good as any perimeter player I have ever coached, giving great effort to help our team. He cares deeply about Carolina and the basketball program.

“P.J. has learned from this experience and will continue to grow as a player and adult. I will support him and help him as much as I possibly can as he enters this next phase of his life and basketball career.”

North Carolina hosts Davidson on Saturday afternoon. The Tar Heels have relied on sophomore Marcus Paige for much of their perimeter scoring through ten games, J.P. Tokoto has shown signs of improvement and the return of McDonald should give them another scorer as the season wears on. If anything, the fact that they’ve already played ten games without Hairston means that the Heels have already been getting used to not having him on the floor.

Leslie McDonald has been cleared, while reports say P.J. Hairston unlikely to play this season

Leslie McDonald, P.J. Hairston

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.

Rick Barnes: ‘I imagine what Roy [Williams] is going through’ waiting for NCAA decision

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It’s the end of the first semester and No. 14 North Carolina is still waiting for a decision from the NCAA on the eligibility status of guards P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald.

The Tar Heels have been without the duo for the first nine games of the season, and they will both likely be in street clothes for Wednesday’s game against Texas. Rick Barnes will be on the other sideline tomorrow night inside the Dean Dome, and he can understand what Roy Williams and UNC are going through.

Last season, Barnes had to wait until Dec. 21 to know whether or not he would have sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo in his lineup. Kabango was initially suspended for the season for receiving impermissible benefits. It took until late December for the NCAA to revise the suspension to 23 games.

“I imagine what Roy is going through,” Barnes told Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News on Monday. “And it’s not a lot of fun.”

Kabongo played 11 games averaging 14.6 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game before going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. Barnes mentioned the wait weighed heavily on Kabongo.

“I don’t think any of us really can understand the emotional stress,” Barnes added. “We are dealing with kids. This is what they love to do. It’s a big part of their lives. When it’s taken away from them, the emotional stress – it weighed on him very heavily.”

Hairston and McDonaled combined for close to 22 points per game last season. Without them in the lineup, UNC has become the most puzzling team in college basketball. The Tar Heels struggled against Holy Cross and Richmond, lost at home to Belmont, but has also defeated Louisville and Kentucky with another win over top-ranked Michigan State in East Lansing.

Texas and North Carolina tip at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.