Charlotte Hornets rookie P.J. Hairston is scheduled to appear in Durham County Court (August 8) on misdemeanor charges of assault and battery following an altercation during a pick-up game at a Durham YMCA according to several media outlets on July 7. Paul Sherwin, the public information officer for the Durham County Sheriff's Office, said Hairston was issued a summons but will not be arrested.
"If two people get into a fight in North Carolina and there is no serious injury and is not witnessed by an officer, our hands are tied," Sherwin said. "We don't charge people in [unwitnessed] fistfights. They have to file a report with the magistrate office."
According to court documents, Kentrell Barkley was the recipient of Hairston’s punch – which Juan Morrow (Hairston’s agent) admitted Hairston threw. Barkley said that Hairston "punched him twice in the head". The incident occurred on July 6.
"We were playing open gym and I was running up the court and he hit me in the forehead with his fist," the 17-year-old Barkley told ESPN.com on Sunday. "I walked up to him and asked him what happened, and then he hit me again in the neck."
Barkley is a 6-foot-5, with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, rising senior small forward for Northern Durham high school. He has offers from Campbell, Charlotte, East Carolina, North Carolina Central , UNC Wilmington and Western Kentucky. Barkley is rated as a three-star prospect.
Morrow, however, said that Hairston threw the punch in retaliation.
"The pickup game got heated, the kid swung at P.J. and P.J. swung back," Morrow said. "P.J. did not go out and beat up a little kid like some people want to make it out to be."
Barkley said that after he was hit the second time, several people broke up the altercation as the pair stood face-to-face. Barkley said that Hairston and a friend left before the local police arrived.
Barkley's guardian Rich Phillips told The Associated Press that Barkley has a knot above his forehead from the punch.
The Hornets released a statement on July 7. “The organization is aware of the charges filed against P.J. Hairston regarding yesterday's incident. It is a legal matter and we will have no further comment until the legal process has run its course."
Hairston also released a statement, "I want to apologize to the Hornets organization and our fans for creating this distraction. As this is now a legal matter, I cannot comment on the situation any further. I am truly sorry for any embarrassment that I have caused."
Hairston was selected with the 26th overall pick of the 2014 draft by the Miami Heat and then subsequently dealt to the Charlotte Hornets for Shabazz Napier. He played for Texas Legends in 2013-2014 after leaving North Carolina following his sophomore season.
Hairston is the first D-League player to be drafted in the first round.