No news is typically good news during the offseason. Unfortunately for the North Carolina Tar Heels, their top returning scorer, P.J. Hairston, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this summer. In addition to being arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession, it was also discovered that Hairston was driving a rental car that a convicted felon allegedly loaned him. That could be an NCAA violation.
Fortunately for Hairston and the program, the marijuana charges have been dropped while the university continues its investigation into the incident. If Hairston doesn't lose his junior year eligibility, he will lead a team that most have in their preseason top-15 rankings.
Here's all you need to know about the 2013-14 Tar Heels:
2013 Record: 25-11, 12-6 in the ACC
2013 Postseason: Lost to Kansas in 3rd round
Key Additions: Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, Nate Britt
We've already touched on Hairston's situation and how big of an impact he'll have on the team if he's cleared to play by UNC and the NCAA. If he's on the floor, the Tar Heels will have a chance to not only win the ACC, but make a deep run in March.
James Michael McAdoo didn't quite live up the hype during his sophomore campaign, and most feel the thought of turning pro after two years in Chapel Hill likely got to his head a bit. He will now have a chance to prove he's the real deal as a sophomore. After averaging 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, look for McAdoo to be one of the top forwards in the ACC in 2014.
Marcus Paige showed his youth last season, but there was plenty to like from the freshman. As he makes the jump to his sophomore campaign, coach Williams will look to his point guard to be a true leader on the floor. When Paige plays well and under control, it allows the offense to really push the tempo. Leslie McDonald was another guard who saw a lot of playing time last season. He didn't quite make the jump some projected him to, but reports are that he's really put a lot of work into his shot this summer. If he can become a marksman for UNC, watch out.
As far as the incoming freshmen go, all three have high ceilings. Isaiah Hicks, a five-star small forward, is one of the better shooters in the 2013 class and should be able to contribute on the offensive end immediately. He still needs to add size to his frame, and his defense will remain a work in progress throughout the year. Four-star center Kennedy Meeks has tremendous size at 6'9 and 275 pounds, and is regarded as one of the top rebounders in his class. Point guard Nate Britt is extremely quick and will learn a lot from Paige and the rest of the veteran guards on the UNC roster.
As was the case last year, the weak spot on this roster is post play. Coach Williams often went small last year, and that will be the case once again in 2014 if no one emerges. Sophomore-to-be Joel James was unable to solidify the center position last year, but he does have some upside and could be an option moving forward. Meeks also has the size to anchor the paint, though he'll need to get in better shape to get up and down the floor with regularity.
If Hairston is able to play, the Tar Heels are going to win a lot of games. They will challenge Duke for ACC supremacy, and should contend for a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament. If the coaching staff is able to find a go-to option at center, the Tar Heels don't have a glaring weakness. That's a rather large if, though, and it will be a key storyline to keep an eye on once fall practices begin.