North Carolina's leading returning scorer, P.J. Hairston, will be on the court with the Tar Heels when practice begins Friday.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams suspended Hairston earlier this year after a series of incidents in which Hairston faced numerous charges including marijuana possession, driving without a license, speeding and careless and reckless driving. Hairston also has been linked to a convicted felon who is facing drug and gun charges..
But Williams said Hairston has earned the right to practice with his teammates.
"There's no question in my mind," Williams told the Greensboro, N.C., News Record that Hairston would play this season. "If he wasn't going to play, why would I run him to death? ... He will play."
Williams said he put Hairston through more conditioning this preseason than any player he has ever coached, and he added that he did three times as much running this summer than any other UNC player.
"In 26 years as a head coach, I've never made the demands on a young man that I have made of P.J.," Williams said in a statement. "To his credit, he accepted them without question. This is just the first step toward permanently earning his place back on the roster. He will have to sit out some games, but we haven't yet determined how many that will be."
Williams suspended Hairston on July 28 after the 20-year-old was charged with a car-related crime for a third time during the offseason.
On June 5, Hairston was stopped at a license checkpoint and charged with possessing marijuana and driving without a license. Those charges were dropped on July 19.
On May 3, Hairston was cited for speeding.
"I appreciate Coach Williams giving me another chance to show that I can and will make better choices and decisions," Hairston said in a statement. "I owe it to my mom, my dad, my coaches and teammates and every Tar Heel out there to make you proud to have me play basketball for Carolina. It was my dream as a kid and I would love more than anything to have that chance once again."
Williams said Hairston will be stripped of all leadership responsibilities even after his suspension ends. Hairston averaged 14.6 points per game last season.