* After falling short of the Spanish League playoffs with Casademont Girona (15-19) last week, former Tar Heel Ademola Okulaja figured his fifth pro season had come to an end. But, while packing a suitcase for his trip home to Germany, his agent called to tell him that Benetton Treviso in Italy wanted to add him to the team as a playoff reinforcement. Okulaja quickly changed his airlines ticket in order to extend his season in Treviso, Italy.
"I am very excited and honored to play for Benetton," Okulaja told Inside Carolina after arriving in Italy with two games left on the regular season schedule. "It will be hard to adjust and fit in with the team in such a short period, as always, I will try to give my best."
Benetton is tied for second in the Italian League at 24-8, one game out of first with only two games to play before playoff seeding is set. His new coach, Ettore Messina, is familiar with Okulaja's career and is glad to add him to the team in pursuit of the league championship. "Okulaja is accustomed to playing at a high level. He will be a big help to us at small forward and power forward, and gives us athleticism, but is also technically sound," Messina told the press when Okulaja was introduced last Thursday and presented a green jersey with number nineteen.
Okulaja's new teammates with Benetton Basket include Tyus Edney (UCLA), Maurice Evans (Texas) and Jermaine Jackson (Detroit Mercy). Former Tar Heel Dante Calabria is also in the Italian League, with sixth-place playoff-bound Oregon Scientific Cantu (18-14).
Okulaja played 24 games in Spain's ACB with Girona and averaged 29.7 minutes, 14.5 ponts, 6.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and a league-best 2.2 steals per game. He was also third-best in three-point shooting at 46 percent (37-80).
* Vasco Evtimov also played in Spain this season and came up short of qualifying for the playoffs. Evtimov, with 15-19 Caja San Fernando Sevilla, was the top rebounder in the Spanish League at 10.8 boards per game. He also contributed 10.5 points and 27.7 minutes per contest.
SCOTT WILLIAMS, STACK: FUTURE UNCLEAR
* According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mavs' coach Don Nelson said at midseason that Scott Williams had a roster spot with the team next year if he wanted it. Since then, Nelson moved to a smaller lineup by the end of the season that greatly reduced Williams' playing time and left him unsure about a return to Dallas. "We'll see what happens," the 14-year vet told the Star-Telegram. "I'll wait until August or September to decide if I want to hang 'em up or keep playing."
* The word on Stackhouse from the Charlotte Observer is that if Washington does not protect him from the expansion draft, "expect the Bobcats to shop him hard to teams looking for scoring and willing to send the [Bobcats] a first-round pick."
THE PLAYOFFS MOVE ON ...
* The NBA postseason continues. Here is a Tar Heel recap through Tuesday ---
Rasheed Wallace averaged 14.8 points and 10 rebounds in the five games it took the Pistons to eliminate the Bucks. Larry Brown's Pistons opened the best-of-seven conference semifinal series Monday by routing the Nets, 78-56. Wallace had 8 points. Hubert Davis is not part of the Nets' active 12-man roster.
Sacramento put Dallas away 4-1 with a 119-118 win on Friday. Antawn Jamison played 30 minutes with 17 points (7-15 FG) and five rebounds. Scott Williams did not play.
Rick Fox did not play as the Lakers lost Game One of the Western Conference Semifinal to the Spurs, 88-78, on Sunday. Game Two is tonight.
George Lynch and Shammond Williams are out of the playoffs, as New Orleans lost Game 7 to Miami, 85-77, Tuesday night. Lynch had 9 points and 4 boards, while Williams added 7 points and 4 assists. Lynch led the Hornets with 16 points (along with P.J. Brown) in Sunday's 89-83 Game Six win.