Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

In this week's update -- Exclusive Q&A with Ademola Okulaja; Tar Heels in the NBA summer leagues; John Kuester to coach for the N.J. Nets.


* Former Tar Heel Ademola Okulaja recently took some time from his busy schedule to provide information for this Inside Carolina Q&A:

Inside Carolina: What have you been up to since the end of May when the playoffs ended in Italy with Benetton Treviso?
Ademola Okulaja -- First, I went home to Berlin, Germany and saw family and friends. Of course, I had to get some good home cooked meals and see everything that was new in Berlin. Then I went over to the U.S. to see family and friends there, and travel a little.

IC: You went against Dante Calabria (Cantu) in the Italian League playoffs. Did you get a chance to talk with him about the Tar Heels, Chapel Hill and old times?
A.O. -- Yes, we talked for a little bit, but you can only talk so much before a game without losing your game face. He and his family were doing well and that is the most important thing. He is back in North Carolina at this time.

IC: How often do you get a chance to visit Chapel Hill? I'm sure you could get into a good pick-up game at the Smith Center if you wanted to.
A.O. -- I try to visit every summer. Sometimes a long visit, sometimes shorter. We played some games against the current Tar Heels. I think we won around 80-90% of all the games we played.

IC: What former Tar Heel teammates do you keep in touch with?
A.O. -- I am in good contact with Antawn, Vince, Shammond, Mak and Ed Cota, either by phone or e-mail.

IC: Will you be on the NBA summer league circuit this year?
A.O. -- It looks like I will skip summer league this year, I need a little break. That does not mean that I am not working out and working on my game this summer.

IC: ACB.com (the Spanish League's official website) says Etosa Alicante is interested in signing you. After four years in Spain, in three different cities (Girona twice, Barcelona and Malaga), and then finishing the season in Italy with Benetton Treviso, what are your plans for 2004-05?
A.O. -- I'll try to go back to Spain, but at this time I don't know yet.

IC: How much of a priority do you give to staying active on the German national team in international competition?
A.O. -- I like playing for Germany, one -- for the competition, second -- because it's a great group to play with. I'll try to play with the national team as long as my body allows it.

IC: Germany will play an exhibition game with the USA Olympic team in Cologne, Germany on August 4 as they prepare for the Olympics. What do you think it will be like going against Larry Brown, your former Sixers coach, Roy Williams and the stars from the NBA in that game?
A.O. -- Hopefully it's going to be a lot of fun. I am looking forward to seeing everyone.

IC: What do you recall about playing for Larry Brown, now coach of the World Champion Detroit Pistons and 2004 USA Olympic team, during your brief stay with Philadelphia in 2000?
A.O. -- He's a great coach, and that's exactly what he does, he coaches. He tries to improve all of his players and get the best out of them. I enjoyed playing for him and learning a lot of things from him about the game of basketball. Off the court he is also a great guy.

IC: As someone who is very experienced with international basketball, with the USA going for "Gold" versus talented teams from around the world such as Lithuania, Argentina and Serbia & Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia), how do you think the 2004 Olympic basketball event in Athens, Greece will play out?
A.O. -- The U.S.A. must play their best game or they'll get a couple of L's.

IC: What would be your All-Time, All-German basketball starting five?
A.O. -- PG: Michael Koch, SG: Henning Harnisch, SF: Ademola Okulaja, PF: Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks), C: Christian Welp (Washington '87).

IC: Besides getting some rest, what plans do you have for the summer?
A.O. -- Other than rest, I will have fun with family and friends.

You can keep tabs on Okulaja at www.okulaja.com -- his official website.


* The NBA summer league action gets started today in Orlando and Minneapolis. Joe Forte is on the summer roster of the Detroit Pistons, who will be in Minneapolis at the Minnesota Summer League from today (vs. Milwaukee) through July 10.

Among Forte's teammates with the Pistons will be former ACC stars Tahj Holden (Md. '03) and Clemson's Harold Jamison ('99). Virginia's Roger Mason Jr. ('02) with Toronto, NC State's Todd Fuller ('96) with Charlotte and undrafted high-schooler Jackie Butler with Minnesota are some of the other players of note listed on rosters of teams that will be in the Minnesota Summer League.

* Kris Lang is on the roster of Memphis Grizzlies. They are among the eight NBA teams taking part in the Southern California Summer Pro League at Long Beach, California from July 10-25. Duke's Dahntay Jones ('03) is also on the Grizzlies summer squad.

Other former ACC players listed on rosters for Long Beach are Maryland's Terence Morris ('01) and Chris Wilcox ('04), both with the Clippers, Edward Scott (Clemson '03) with Sacramento, Trevor Harvey (FSU '03) with New York and Josh Howard (WF '03) of Dallas.

* Former Tar Heel star Ed Cota had planned to be with the Pistons summer team in Minnesota, but is currently dealing with a knee injury. "The doctor said I wasn't ready to play yet," Cota told Inside Carolina via e-mail. "I've been going to rehab for the past month. Hopefully it will heal soon."

The Las Vegas Summer League has six NBA teams and will begin on July 13. The Rocky Mountain Revue, with 11 NBA teams, runs from July 16 through July 24 at Salt Lake City (Utah) Community College.


* Former Tar Heel John Kuester is leaving his assistant coach position under Larry Brown with the Detroit Pistons, according to media reports from Detroit.

The local papers noted that he is taking an assistant coaching job with the New Jersey Nets in order to be closer to his family that lives in Philadelphia.

With Detroit assistant Mike Woodson reported to be leaving to become the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, the Pistons could have two assistant coach jobs to fill. The Detroit News has reported that Randy Ayers and Gar Heard, both former assistants to Brown in Philadelphia, would be obvious candidates and video coordinator Pat Sullivan could be promoted to a bench-assistant position. The Pistons summer league team is being coached by assistant (and former Tar Heel player and coach) Dave Hanners, along with Herb Brown and Sullivan.


2: Brian Reese (33)
4: Jeffrey "Geoff" Crompton (born 1955, died Jan. 7, 2002)
6: Cherie Lea (23)
10: Ademola Okulaja (29)
18: York Larese (66)
21: Phillip McLamb (23)
24: Rick Fox (35)
25: Brian Morrison (22)
26: Dick Grubar (57)
27: Bill Guthridge (67)
27: Kenny Harris (33)
31: Derrick Phelps (32)

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