The saga of P.J. Hairston has taken its next turn.
Per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, the next place you will see the former North Carolina star play basketball might be the NBA Development League:
P.J. Hairston said in a statement he submitted paperwork today to play in D-League this season. Also enrolled in online class at UNC.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) January 10, 2014
Inside Carolina provides confirmation from Hairston about his future:
PJ Hairston says in statement he submitted paperwork today to play in NBDL.— InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) January 10, 2014
Hairston: "I am excited to continue to pursue my degree at UNC while also pursuing my dream of becoming a professional basketball player."— InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) January 10, 2014
As for a landing spot, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Texas Legends plan to claim Hairston:
Texas Legends plan to claim former North Carolina swingman PJ Hairston off waivers, a source told Yahoo.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) January 12, 2014
Hairston has found his name in the headlines for all the wrong reasons since the summer. The former McDonald's All-American was under NCAA investigation for driving rental cars linked to an ex-convict during the offseason, and he had yet to play for the Tar Heels in 2013-14 as a result.
In fact, North Carolina recently announced that it wouldn’t apply for Hairston’s reinstatement, meaning his days as a college athlete in Chapel Hill are essentially done.
North Carolina has had an up-and-down season without Hairston. The Tar Heels have victories over Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky, but also five losses, including inexplicable defeats at the hands of Belmont, UAB, Wake Forest and Miami.
Will P.J. Hairston become a successful NBA player?
The argument can be made that a steady hand as a go-to option such as Hairston would have helped North Carolina establish more consistency this season, but that is hypothetical now. It will be up to remaining standouts James Michael McAdoo and Marcus Paige to ensure the Tar Heels find themselves in the NCAA tournament this season.
It is worth noting that Hairston enrolled to take online classes at North Carolina, so his days as a student may not be over even as he tests the D-League waters.