On the heels of a breakout sophomore season in which he emerged as North Carolina's most consistent scorer, junior P.J. Hairston is dealing with some unexpected off-the-court trouble.
Durham police stopped Hairston at a checkpoint Wednesday night and arrested him for possession of a small amount of marijuana, ABC11 News in Raleigh reported Thursday morning. Hairston was also cited for driving without a license.
It's too soon to project if Hairston will face suspension or other penalties from North Carolina as a result of his arrest, but the fact that it's his first known offense should work in his favor. North Carolina spokesman Steve Kirschner told the TV station the school is aware of the situation and may comment further after gathering more information.
Hairston averaged a team-high 14.6 points per game as a sophomore, sparking North Carolina's late-season surge when he moved into the starting lineup midway through ACC play. He averaged 18.2 points during the Tar Heels' final 13 games, playing so well that he briefly considered entering the NBA draft this spring before announcing in mid-April that he'd return to school for his junior season.
“I value the experiences I have had over the past two years in Chapel Hill, and hope to continue to grow under Coach Roy’s guidance," Hairston said in a statement announcing his return. "Coach always says ‘when you focus on the team during the season, he will support us in the offseason’ — this is my way of supporting coach, my teammates and the Tar Heel community."
With Hairston, forward James Michael McAdoo and point guard Marcus Paige all back next season from a team that won 25 games last year, North Carolina has appeared in many way-too-early preseason top 10s this spring. Hairston will need to refocus himself and use this as a learning experience for the Tar Heels to live up to those expectations.