The North Carolina men's basketball team enters the 2013-14 season as the No. 12 team in the nation with high hopes for an ACC title and national championship contention, but the Tar Heels may have to start their season without a couple key players.
UNC will get things started against Oakland on Nov. 8, but P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald have yet to regain eligibility, according to Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer.
#UNC says P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald will not play in exhibition tonight. "School working with NCAA" to resolve eligibility issues.— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) November 1, 2013
Both players have gotten into trouble since the end of last season, and it remains to be seen when head coach Roy Williams will allow them to play.
According to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, Hairston is currently suspended due to three run-ins with the law during the offseason. Hairston was twice caught driving a rental car linked to an ex-convict, and was cited for speeding on another occasion.
McDonald has had his fair share of issues as well. According to Bret Strelow of the Fayetteville Observer, Iceberg Guards have advertised McDonald as a user of its mouth guards. That is obviously in violation of NCAA rules, so McDonald's status is very much in limbo.
The Tar Heels have plenty of talent, but both Hairston and McDonald will be needed in order for them to make any type of run.
Hairston is a junior guard who led the team in scoring last season with 14.6 points per game. He is also an NBA prospect. McDonald is a senior guard who is capable of starting or coming off the bench, and he chipped in better than seven points per game last season despite playing under 18 minutes per contest.
North Carolina fans will certainly be holding their collective breath for the next week as they await the return of both men, but luckily for the Tar Heels, their first big test doesn't come until Dec. 4 when they take on No. 2 Michigan State.
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