* After being with the New Jersey Nets for seven years as a player, nine seasons as a broadcaster and the last five seasons as an assistant coach, Mike O'Koren is leaving to become the top assistant on former Nets assistant Eddie Jordan's Washington Wizards coaching staff.
"I was extremely excited for Eddie Jordan when he was hired as head coach [by Washington] and I'm even more excited joining the Wizards and to work for Eddie," said O'Koren. "I can't wait to get to work."
Nets president Rod Thorn called O'Koren "terrific, a part of the fabric here, for 22-23 years he has been with the Nets in some capacity or the other. You will never find a more loyal individual than Mike," according to the New York Post.
After being a four-year starter at North Carolina, O'Koren was the sixth overall selection of the 1980 NBA Draft by New Jersey. O'Koren played 407 games during eight NBA seasons and averaged 8.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
STACKHOUSE EXTENDS WITH WIZARDS
* Jerry Stackhouse could have become a free agent on July 1. Instead, the former Tar Heel agreed to stay with the Washington Wizards and added two years onto his existing two-year contract. "It's like the first real commitment I've had from any team since I've been in the league," Stackhouse said about the $18 million two-year contract extension through 2006-07.
"I'm ecstatic about it," Stack told the Washington Post. "They stepped up in a situation where there really was no market [in free agency]. They wanted me to be the forefront and focus of the team. This is a great situation to be in, a situation I've really never felt in my career."
* That leaves Scott Williams (Phoenix) and Shammond Williams (Denver) as the only former Tar Heels that can be free agents on Tuesday.
Denver G.M. Kiki Vandeweghe says he will be talking with Shammond about the possibility of returning, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Which would give Shammond a chance to be back in Carolina blue since the Nuggets have changed their team color to powder blue. Of course, former Bruin Kiki Vandeweghe might consider it to be UCLA blue.
BROWN ON FIRE WITH 26
* Coretta Brown followed up two 20-point performances as a reserve a week ago with a 26 point outburst last Thursday that lead the Indiana Fever to a 94-90 double-overtime win at Connecticut.
Brown came off the Indiana bench to play 40 of the games 50 minutes and displayed great accuracy -- 8-12 FG, 5-6 3-pt. FG, 5-6 FT -- on her way to a game high and new career best 26 points.
FRENCH LEAGUE TITLE ELUDES EVTIMOV
* Vasco Evtimov needed a win Saturday to join Ed Cota (Lithuania), Kris Lang (Poland), and Henrik Rodl (Germany) as Tar Heels with 2003 European league championships. But Pau Orthez, featuring two recent NBA first round draftees -- Mickael Pietrus (11th) and Boris Diaw (21st) -- kept that from happening with a 74-66 victory over Evtimov's ASVEL Villeurbanne in the decisive game three of France's Pro A championship series.
Evtimov had seven rebounds and four points as foul trouble limited him to 14 minutes. Evtimov had a double-double of 11 points and 10 boards in a 102-78 game two victory that pushed the French League finals to three games.
Evtimov ends his season in France having played in 61 games in all competitions, with 12 starts and averages of 18.3 mpg, 8.1 ppg and 6.9 rpg.
SHAPING UP WITH CHARLOTTE
* She might be out of action with a strained Achilles tendon, but Charlotte Smith-Taylor is still able to provide some workout tips for the rest of us.
The WNBA veteran's suggestions on health and fitness can be found at -- http://www.wnba.com/features/fitness_smith-taylor.html -- but it will require us to get away from the keyboard for awhile for them to have an impact.
JOHNSON HAS THE MAGIC
Will Johnson is continuing his winning run through the Carolinas Basketball League with the unbeaten Hickory Nutz. After downing the Salisbury Steaks (4-4) 122-91 on Saturday with 749 in attendance, Hickory is off to a 10-0 start.
Here's some comments on Johnson from the Hickory Daily Record game report:
"Hometown favorite Will "Magic" Johnson added nine (of his 16) points in the final quarter as Hickory wrapped it up. ... with 2:21 remaining, the Nutz reached 120 points and turned a routine victory into Free Pizza Night for those who purchased programs."
Wake Forest's Robert O'Kelley has been a recent addition to the CBL's Wilmington Wave Rockers (1-9). In Friday's 138-93 loss at Hickory, O'Kelley compiled 38 points. Duke's Nate James led the Nutz with 34.
TAR HEEL BIRTHDAYS OF JULY ...
* ... Brian Reese: 7/2 (32) ... Geoff Crompton: 7/4/1955 (died 1/7/2002) ... Cherie Lea: 7/6 (22) ... Ademola Okulaja: 7/10 (28) ... York Larese: 7/18 (65) ... Rick Fox: 7/24 (34) ... Brian Morrison: 7/25 (21) ... Dick Grubar: 7/26 (56) ... Bill Guthridge: 7/27 (66) ... Kenny Harris: 7/27 (32) ... Derrick Phelps: 7/31 (31) ...