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.