UNC to start season without guards P.J. Hairston, Leslie McDonald

Posted by Andrew Carter on November 7, 2013 

Leslie McDonald (left) and P.J. Hairston (center) will remain in suits for North Carolina’s season-opener against Oakland.

ROBERT WILLETT -- RWILLETT@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

— No surprise here at all, but North Carolina made it official today and announced that the Tar Heels will start the season without P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald, a pair of guards who are under NCAA investigation in separate cases that likely involve impermissible benefits.

The school has never publicly explained the reason for the NCAA investigation.

Hairston, though, was in trouble throughout the summer and was caught driving rental cars paid for by a convicted felon. McDonald, meanwhile, wore a designer mouth guard in at least one game last year, and appeared in promotional material for Iceberg Guards, the mouth guard manufacturer.

Roy Williams, the UNC coach, said he wasn’t aware of a timetable for the NCAA to make its decision on either player. Without Hairston and McDonald, a pair of guards, UNC’s starting lineup, Williams said, will likely include freshman point guard Nate Britt, sophomore guard Marcus Paige, sophomore guard J.P. Tokoto and junior forward James Michael McAdoo. It’s unclear who will start for UNC at center. Freshman Kennedy Meeks and sophomore Joel James have been competing for that spot.

Asked whether he was optimistic that Hairston would play at all this season, Williams said he was – but that he was also optimistic the Tar Heels would go “75-0.”

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