Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

This week's update on former Tar Heels, includes the latest on Steve Bucknall, Kenny Smith, Mitch Kupchak, the Olympic Qualifying Team and more.


* Steve Bucknall has set out to upgrade the basketball development in his native England. Last week in London, Bucknall had his North Carolina coach, Dean Smith, on staff as a speaker at "The Carolina Experience" basketball camp. His former Tar Heel teammate J.R. Reid was also there.

"The camp was a great success," Bucknall informed Inside Carolina from London. "Coach Smith and J.R. did a fantastic job in promoting my cause. I now need other alumni to follow suite so we can make a difference for the kids in England."

According to the London Times, Smith normally is paid handsomely to be at Michael Jordan's Las Vegas basketball camp this time of year, but instead travelled to London to work Bucknall's "Carolina Experience" clinic at no charge. "I'm proud of Steve for the loyalty he has shown to English basketball," Smith told the Times. "I think it's remarkable and I'm pleased to help him any way I can."

Bucknall's goal is to set something in place that will help British youth in the future. Bucknall, 37, also told IC he will probably play for Iraklis Thessaloniki in Greece again this season, and that SKY TV will have a feature on Dean Smith's visit to London. He added to send his "regards to all the Carolina family."

For more on Bucknall's camp, here is the camp web site - http://www.bucknallessentialskills.com


* The USA, led by coach Larry Brown, who is assisted by UNC's Roy Williams, breezed through four games in Preliminary Round Group B play of the Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico last week. Eight teams now move to the 2nd Round -- Group C -- for four games to be played today through Thursday. Team USA will meet Canada today, Argentina on Tuesday, Mexico on Wednesday and Puerto Rico on Thursday.

Former Tar Heel Vince Carter, a late addition to the team, has been very consistent thus far with 14 ppg (14, 15, 13, 14) in 19.3 minutes per outing. Carter has hit on 21-of-28 (75%) from the field and was 7-for-11 on 3-pointers. Carter is not showng any problems from injuries that have hampered him the last two seasons.

"His shot is falling. He is moving well, playing with confidence," the New York Post reported about Carter. "And he is causing replays by the minute with an awesome display of dunks - he had another [Saturday] in a 14-point effort, taking an off-the-backboard pass from Jason Kidd for the second time in the tournament."

"He is jumping well, jumping like he did before," observed the Nets' Kenyon Martin to the Post. "Seeing the stuff he's doing now, that was stuff he did before."


* Many former Tar Heels were in Chapel Hill on Saturday for the second installment of the World's Greatest Alumni Game. Inside Carolina reporters at the game talked to some of the participants. Here's a sample from Kenny Smith --

"IC --- You seem to have a great job in basketball [Turner Sports NBA studio analyst], but hypothetically, if a position came open, could you see yourself as an assistant coach at Carolina?

Kenny Smith: Right now, there are some opportunities in the NBA for head coaching positions, and that's something that I may do later on. Here, I don't care if you are making $50 million a day and they said that they need you to come coach here as the third assistant, I'm coming back. This is the first obligation. It's like the Army or the Navy when the government calls you, you have to come, no matter what capacity."

IC also had a chance to talk with Rick Fox, Sam Perkins and Joe Wolf.

Here's the link -- http://northcarolina.theinsiders.com/2/171211.html -- for their comments.


* The Los Angeles Times reported last week that, according to sources within the organization, the Lakers and General Manager Mitch Kupchak have agreed on a contract extension of at least four years.

Kupchak, 49, is presently working on the last year of a four-year contract that followed the departure of Jerry West from the Lakers' front office. The Lakers had denied Portland and Washington permission to talk to Kupchak about job openings recently.

Kupchak's latest moves have been the signing of free agents Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Horace Grant in an attempt to return the Lakers as NBA champs.


* Julius Peppers is no longer a power forward, but the Carolina Panthers defensive end is a power bench-presser. A recent USA Today report on the Panther's D-line said that Peppers' devotion to football fulltime has allowed his bench press prowess to improve from 350 to 444 pounds.

Carolina Panthers' 10-year veteran defensive tackle Brentson Buckner refers to his linemate, Peppers, as "probably the most athletic guy I've played with," according to the USA Today story. "He has feet like a DB, the speed of a safety, the whole package. Last year he played on athletic ability and got 12 sacks in 12 games. Just imagine how much better he's going to be this year now that he's been able to concentrate on football, get stronger, get bigger and faster."

Peppers will be in his second NFL season after being the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year and missing the last four games of the season for a suspension for using a dietary substance banned by the league.

FORTE, GIBSON SETTLE ON ASSAULT CHARGE * Joseph Forte, Seattle SuperSonics guard, and North Carolina football player James Gibson agreed on a settlement last week in Orange County District Court that, if carried out, will have the assault charge against Forte dismissed, according to the Durham Herald Sun report of the court proceedings.

The agreement reached through the Dispute Settlement Center is confidential. The case is continued until October 20, but if Forte meets all conditions of the settlement the District Attorney would dismiss the assault charge and Forte would not have to return to court, as reported by the Herald Sun.

Forte still has an October 23 court date in Belair, Maryland for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and paraphernalia, and possession of a handgun.

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