CHAPEL HILL North Carolina will start the season without P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald, the school announced on Thursday before coach Roy Williams’ first regularly-scheduled press conference of the season.
It’s not a surprise that Hairston and McDonald, a pair of guards, will miss the season-opener on Friday night against Oakland. The NCAA is investigating both players in separate cases that likely involve impermissible benefits.
UNC has never publicly detailed the reasons for the NCAA investigation. Williams on Thursday said he wasn’t aware of a timetable for the NCAA’s ruling.
Hairston, a junior, would have been a sure starter for the Tar Heels on Friday night. He is the team’s leading returning scorer. McDonald, the team’s only scholarship senior, likely would have started, too.
Without Hairston and McDonald, Williams said UNC’s starting lineup would likely consist of Nate Britt and Marcus Paige, a pair of point guards, and sophomore guard J.P. Tokoto, junior forward James Michael McAdoo and a player to be determined at center.
Joel James, a sophomore, and Kennedy Meeks, a freshman from Charlotte, have been competing throughout the preseason there.