Former North Carolina swingman P.J. Hairston has a new team: the Texas Legends.
The Legends of the NBA Development League said Tuesday they had acquired the Tar Heels’ leading scorer from last year. The team said Hairston - who didn’t play at UNC this season due to NCAA violations - is the first player to enter the NBDL at midseason after starting the year in college.
The team says Hairston is expected to be uniform Saturday night against the Austin Toros. The Legends are an affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks in the NBDL, the NBA’s official minor league.
“I’m extremely grateful that the Texas Legends organization believes in my abilities, and thank them for signing me to their team,” Hairston said in a team statement. “I intend to take full advantage of this opportunity. This is another positive step towards accomplishing the goals I set out for myself. This is an exciting time.”
The 6-foot-6 junior submitted paperwork Friday to play in the NBDL, putting him in the league’s waiver pool for two business days. The Legends had the highest waiver priority to claim him.
“P.J. has been on the NBA radar for a number of years now, and the opportunity for him to develop and showcase his ability with the Legends is unique,” said Donnie Nelson, Legends owner and president of the basketball operations for the Mavericks. “We are surrounding P.J. with all of the necessary tools to prepare himself for the NBA draft. I am excited to see him in a Legends uniform this weekend.”
Hairston’s NBDL move comes more than three weeks after the school decided not to seek his reinstatement from the NCAA for rules violations, including using rental vehicles tied to a felon and party promoter in Durham.
The 21-year-old Hairston flirted with entering the NBA draft after averaging 14.6 points and shooting 40 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore before deciding to return. He practiced with the Tar Heels through the fall semester and sat on the bench in a suit for home games until the Northern Kentucky game on Dec. 27, a week after the school’s decision.
In a statement Friday, Hairston said he was taking an online course through UNC toward his communications major