North Carolina is investigating whether a former college basketball player has improper ties to Tar Heels leading scorer P.J. Hairston or any other UNC athlete.
Athletic director Bubba Cunningham said Saturday the school began looking into Rodney Blackstock shortly after USA Today reported in May that AAU coach Darius Cobb said he received $10,000 to steer former Kansas guard Ben McLemore to him as a client. Blackstock is the founder and CEO of Hooplife Academy in Greensboro, N.C. — Hairston’s hometown.
Cunningham said the school’s probe is “to see if there’s cause for concern” regarding any potential rules violations, such as an agent or runner providing an athlete with improper benefits.
“We’ve been aware of it since May and we’ve been in contact with the NCAA on a regular basis,” he said, declining further comment.
The NCAA sanctioned North Carolina’s football program last year after players received improper benefits such as cash, jewelry and travel accommodations from agents or runners dating back to at least 2010.
Blackstock played collegiately at Louisburg, Howard, UNC Greensboro and Greensboro College from 2000-05.
In an email Saturday, NCAA spokeswoman Emily Potter declined comment “on current, pending or potential investigations.”
Big Lead Sports first reported UNC’s contact with the NCAA regarding Blackstock.
Hairston, a 6-foot-5½ swingman, announced in April he would return to Chapel Hill for his junior season instead of entering the NBA draft. He averaged 14.6 points for the season, though he averaged 18 points and shot 40 percent on 3-pointers over the final 13 games after becoming a sophomore starter in a four-guard lineup.
Hairston was arrested in Durham earlier this month and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession during a license checkpoint. Two passengers were also arrested and charged with possessing a half-ounce of marijuana or less.
Officers also seized a 9mm handgun and ammunition during the stop, with Durham police spokeswoman Kammie Michael saying the pistol was found on the ground outside the rented 2013 GMC Yukon during the search. Police haven’t linked the gun to Hairston or his passengers and still haven’t said who rented the vehicle in an ongoing investigation.
McLemore, a second-team All-American, is expected to be an NBA lottery pick in next week’s draft after one season with the Jayhawks. He broke the program’s freshman scoring record held by Danny Manning and averaged nearly 16 points.
Kansas officials said last month they were reviewing the relationship between Blackstock and McLemore’s family.
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