Marcus Paige: ‘We’ve moved on. [PJ Hairston]’s working out with us’

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What kind of punishment PJ Hairston receives for an offseason’s worth of troubling headlines, run-ins with the law and one reported association with a convicted felon with a penchant for renting nice cars, but what’s clear at this point is that North Carolina will have their leading returning scorer back on the team in 2013-2014.

That became all the more obvious on Monday evening, when ESPN.com reported that Hairston has been practicing with his Tar Heel teammates despite being indefinitely suspended from the program.

“[The distraction] was more of an issue in the summer than it will be going into the season,” sophomore point guard Marcus 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. … We’ve moved on. 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.”

With football season starting and Hairston keeping his nose clean the last two months, Paige is right, he’s become much less of a story than he was over the summer.

But during the summer, Hairston couldn’t have been a bigger thorn in Roy Williams’ side.

Hairston was arrested for driving without a license and possession of marijuana, and while both of those charges were dropped, the NCAA began poking around because he was driving a car that was rented by a convicted felon named Fats Thomas at the time. Hairston had also been pulled over for driving a car rented by a woman that lived with Thomas earlier in the year. He was suspended from the team in July when he was pulled over and cited for reckless driving.

Last month, North Carolina AD Bubba Cunningham told a group of professors that Hairston would play this season but “not all the games“.