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North Carolina guard Leslie McDonald expected to return Saturday against Virginia Tech

Feb 1, 2013, 4:14 PM EDT

names of players in photo AP

With North Carolina likely being without the services of P.J. Hairston, who has yet to practice since suffering a concussion during Tuesday’s win at Boston College, when they take on Virginia Tech Saturday the Tar Heels were in need of a personnel boost.

And that’s what they’ve received, as the school announced via the basketball program’s Twitter account that junior guard Leslie McDonald was expected to return to the court on Saturday.

McDonald hasn’t played since North Carolina’s ACC opener at Virginia on January 6, playing 15 minutes and failing to score. McDonald would then suffer a knee injury that ruled him out for the following three games before being suspended for the next three games due to his “performance as a student-athlete.”

With his knee healed and academic suspension served, McDonald will return to the court with North Carolina suddenly in need of his perimeter shooting with Hairston still dealing with the concussion he suffered at BC.

Averaging 8.4 points per game, McDonald is shooting 43% from beyond the arc on the season with his best performances coming in wins over Mississippi State (21 points in 19 minutes) and UAB (24 points in 26 minutes).

Hairston’s injury opens up some minutes for McDonald to step in and contribute, and with Hairston averaging 16.0 points per game in North Carolina’s last three games the Tar Heels will need McDonald to hit the ground running offensively.

North Carolina has won five of their last six games (with McDonald missing all six), so even with Hairston’s injury the Tar Heels have some positive momentum on which to build. The hope is that McDonald’s return will keep Roy Williams’ team moving in the right direction.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

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