High schooler says he was sucker-punched by PJ Hairston
Hairston, who was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 26th overall pick in last month’s draft, has been accused of hitting a 17-year-old twice.
Kentrell Barkley, a senior at Northern Durham High who is being recruited by several mid-major programs, claims Hairston hit him once in the head and once in the neck.
“We were playing open gym and I was running up the court and he hit me in the forehead with his fist,” Barkley told ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. “I walked up to him and asked him what happened and then he hit me again in the neck.”
Hairston’s agent Juan Morrow admitted that P.J. threw a punch at Barkley but said it was in retaliation.
“The pickup game got heated, the kid swung at P.J. and P.J. swung back,” Morrow explained.
Vince Phillips, a friend of Barkley who plays at Coastal Carolina University, insisted Hairston was not provoked in any way.
“Kentrell’s team had beaten P.J. a few times and they were winning again,” Phillips said. “P.J. was talking to him, then he got the ball, looked up the court and dribbled to Kentrell full-speed, threw his fist and then went and scored. Then he hit him again.
“I’m a lifelong UNC fan and I played against P.J. in high school. I’ve always rooted for him — even with all the stuff that happened last year. But after this, I don’t think I could look him in the face.”
Phillips added that Barkley was not the only player Hairston started with and that he was “looking for problems.” Barkley said he did not suffer any injuries but has still filed a police report and plans to press charges.
Hairston also had off-court issues at North Carolina, where he did not play a single game last year after a suspension stemming from an NCAA investigation into his use of rental vehicles linked to a former felon and party promoter.