Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

This week's update on former Tar Heels, including an exclusive Q&A with Steve Bucknall [<i>pictured</i>], and the latest on Phelps, Calabria, Cota, Williams, Wallace, Okulaja and Teasley.


* We exchanged some e-mails recently with former Tar Heel Steve Bucknall about his Carolina Experience basketball camp for youths in London, England back in August. "Buck" also took some time last week to answer some questions ...

Inside Carolina: What is your family status?
STEVE BUCKNALL -- "Nasia is my wife of five years and we have two sons, Junior (3½) & Marcus (18 months)."

IC: What kind of car are you currently driving?
S.B. -- "Opel club car."

IC: What kind of music do you listen to?
S.B. -- "All sorts."

IC: What basketball movie would you recommend we watch?
S.B. -- "Space Jam."

IC: If not UNC, where do you think you would have gone to school?
S.B. -- "I don't think about that."

IC: What do you miss most about North Carolina?
S.B. -- "The Carolina family and working with my teammates each day."

IC: What do you consider your greatest moment as a player at North Carolina?
S.B. -- "Beating Duke in the 1989 ACC tourney." (That 77-74 win gave Carolina its first ACC Tournament title in seven years.)

IC: How about a fond memory or funny story from your Carolina days?
S.B. -- "At the pre-game meal in Slug's, my best friend, J.R. [Reid], heated the end of my fork. I arrived late and got a huge surprise when I went to eat my steak!!"

IC: When away from basketball what would we find you doing for fun and relaxation?
S.B. -- "Spending time with my family or working on my basketball camp & seminar project (Bucknall Essential Skills presents The Carolina Experience)."

IC: What is your All-Time, All-England starting five? And no need to be humble.
S.B. -- "Karl Brown (PG-Georgia Tech), Peter Scantlebury (SG-Winthrop), 'Buck' (SF-UNC), John Amaechi (PF-Penn State) and Martin Henlan (C-Virginia Commonwealth)."

IC: You've played 14 pro seasons since leaving Chapel Hill in 1989, including stops in Los Angeles (24 games), England, Germany, France, Italy and Greece. Will there be a 15th season and where will it be?
S.B. -- "At the moment I am training in Greece and the preseason workouts are as hard as ever. Out of the oven and into the frying pan!! Hopefully, on Monday [9/15] I will sign a contract to secure my services for the season."

IC: How do you keep up on Tar Heels' basketball during the season living in England and Greece?
S.B. -- "Web sites, Angela Lee [former UNC basketball secretary] and ex-teammates."

IC: What are your thoughts on the upcoming basketball season with Roy Williams now at the helm?
S.B. -- "Coach Williams is the man for the job and I believe the Carolina winning traditions will continue."

Steve Bucknall, a native of London, England, attended North Carolina from 1985 to 1989 as a 6-6, 210 pounder. He played in 130 games and compiled 974 points (7.5 ppg -- 13.1 as a senior), 392 rebounds and 382 assists to help the Tar Heels to a 116-25 (82.3%) record during that span.

The website at www.bucknallessentialskills.com has the latest on his basketball camp and seminar project for the development of basketball in England.


* Derrick Phelps is prepping for his first pro season in Poland. Phelps took to the court last week with Idea Slask Wroclaw to toss in 16 in a 'friendly' 91-83 defeat of Krakow.

Below some links to photos that show Phelps getting in shape, and that he still has some spring in his step:


* Dante Calabria is sharpening his skills for another season in Italy, this time with Oregon Scientific Cantu. Among his teammates will be Tyson Wheeler (Rhode Island), Nate Johnson (Louisville) and Sofoklis 'Baby Shaq' Schortsanitis, the Clippers' second-round draft choice from Greece.

Below some Calabria photo links:


* Ed Cota arrived in Kaunas, Lithuania last week to begin training camp for his second season with Zalgiris, the defending Lithuanian League champs.

Cota will be joined in Kaunas this year by Lithuanian native, European legend, former Portland Trail Blazer and Zalgiris majority owner Arvydas Sabonis.

You can find some recent photos of Cota at www.zalgiris.lt along with his teammates, including Sabonis and Tanoka Beard (Boise State).


* The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that unrestricted free agent guard Shammond Williams is among several non-guaranteed free agents that will be going to training camp with the Orlando Magic.

Other invitees include NBA veteran John Crotty (Virginia) and one-time prep star Ousmane Cisse for the Magic camp that begins on September 30 at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida.


* Last weeks "elimination round" game with Italy at Eurobasket 2003 in Sweden proved to be just that for Ademola Okulaja and the German national team. Italy eliminated Germany, 86-84, to advance to the quarterfinals, and eventually taking the bronze medal, with a victory over France, for a berth in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Okulaja scored 13 and took down 10 rebounds in the loss to Italy as Germany fell far short of expectations in the 2003 European Championship and Euro Olympic qualifying event. In four games (2-2) Okulaja averaged 30 minutes, 13.5 points and 8.3 rebounds (2nd-best).

In addition to Greece (host country) and Serbia - Montenegro (the current World Champion -- aka Yugoslavia), Lithuana (1st-place), Spain (2nd) and Italy are now qualified for the 2004 Olympics.


* Nikki Teasley and the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks need a road victory on Tuesday over the Detroit Shock to claim another WNBA championship -- Teasley's second, the Sparks' third. The best-of-three WNBA Finals is now deadlocked at 1-1 after the Shock, down four with 1:28 to play, scored a come from behind 62-61 victory on their homecourt to extend the series to the limit.

Teasley had 10 points (3-5 3-pt. FG), five rebounds and six assists in Game 2. In the Sparks' 75-63 Game 1 victory in L.A. on Friday nght, Teasley collected 11 assists, seven rebounds and six points (2-11 FG).

The decisive Sparks-Shock Game 3 will be televised on ESPN2 at 8:00 p.m. ET from Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Next for Teasley, recently named to the All-WNBA second team, will be the Women's World Cup in Russia from October 14-19. The U.S. team will feature young WNBA stars and compete against club teams from Korea, Australia, Russia, Brazil, France and Mozambique, according to AP.


* Not going to happen, but from the Philadelphia Daily News gossip section last week we find this item -- "Portland Trailblazers forward Rasheed Wallace, with two friends, attended the Eagles debacle [17-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday night] in a Warren Sapp jersey - backward - and heckled Eagles fans. The Simon Gratz High grad didn't live up to his reputation of being a hothead and told a [spectator] who asked that he'd love to play in Philly."

The latest trade rumor from Friday's New York Post says, "Those close to Wallace say he's been informed things have heated up [with New Jersey] and something may still go down. Chances are a third team must be incorporated into the trade for it to occur."

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