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UNC's Leslie McDonald is cleared to play; Hairston's status still unknown

Leslie McDonaldLeslie McDonald could make his season debut for Tar Heels Wednesday night against Texas. (Streeter Lecka/Getty)

Leslie McDonald is clear to play for the Tar Heels as soon as today, when they take on Texas in the Dean Smith center at 7 p.m.

The NCAA made his reinstatement official this afternoon. McDonald has been suspended a total of nine games and he will have to donate $1,783 to a charity of his choice for "receiving numerous impermissible extra benefits." Those benefits included using luxury cars, and having parking tickets, a cell phone and lodging paid for him. He and teammate P.J. Hairston, UNC's leading scorer in 2012-13, have been suspended for the entire season to date.

As for Haiston, the release ended with an enlightening passage: "At this time, McDonald’s reinstatement request is the only one the NCAA has received from North Carolina." In other words, UNC has not requested that the NCAA reinstate Hairston. This could lend credence to the report earlier this afternon from Yahoo Sport's Rand Getlin, who said that Hairston would leave for the NBA after this season.

Hairston is the more important player for North Carolina, but it seems his days as a Tar Heel could be behind him. If he does declare for the NBA draft, he is a projected first- or early second-round pick.

UNC will hope that McDonald can alleviate some of the scoring pressure from Marcus Paige, who has been carrying the load for the Tar Heels. McDonald averaged 7.2 point per game last season as a junior and shot 35.9 percent from beyond the arc.

In a statement released by the school, McDonald said, "I feel blessed to play again for Carolina."

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