Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

Phil Ford leaves UNC for the NBA; John Kuester heads to NJ; L.J. Hepp promoted at Stanford; Kris Lang NBA summer league update ...


* Former Tar Heel star and all-time leading scorer (2,290 points) Phil Ford has decided he has been away from basketball long enough. After four years as a vice president of the Rams Club, the non-profit group that oversees athletic scholarships at North Carolina, Ford announced last week that he will be joining Larry Brown's Detroit Pistons coaching staff for the 2004-05 season.

"This was a tough decision," he said. "But I love the game of basketball, and the opportunity to coach again, especially with Coach Brown and his staff in Detroit, is too good to up."

Former North Carolina assistants Dave Hanners and Pat Sullivan are currently on the Detroit coaching staff. "It will be fun to once again work alongside Dave and Pat," Ford said.

* John Kuester, 49, is in the process of moving from Detroit to the coaching staff of the New Jersey Nets. According to reports last week, that move will be official when Kuester returns from a family trip to sign the contract. The assistant coach job in New Jersey allows him to be closer to his wife and two teenage children and their home in suburban Philadelphia.

Prior to coaching in Detroit last season, Kuester was an assistant with Larry Brown for six years in Philadelphia. The family stayed in the Philadelphia area so his son could graduate with his friends.

"I just had an opportunity to be closer to my family. This worked out great for me," Kuester, a Richmond, Va. native, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch about his decision to leave the world champs. "You're talking about leaving 12 of the greatest guys. It was very difficult. I wouldn't have done this for anything else than for this reason. This is important to me. My family's the most important thing."


* North Carolina graduate L.J. Hepp ('01) has been promoted to assistant coach on the Stanford basketball staff after serving one season as video coordinator. Hepp will fill a vacancy created by the departure of assistant Russell Turner, who is now an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors under Mike Montgomery.

Hepp played two seasons for the North Carolina J.V. team and was a J.V. student-assistant coach for Doug Wojcik during his senior year. The Raleigh, N.C. native then worked for the UNC basketball staff as a graduate assistant for two years before going to Stanford for the 2003-04 season.

Hepp's new job duties will be in the areas of recruiting, scouting and player development.


* Former Tar Heel Kris Lang got in a couple of games with the Memphis Grizzlies' summer team last week at the Southern California Summer Pro League in Long Beach, Calif.

Lang played 19 minutes against the 'NBA Stars' Monday and took down seven rebounds while going 0-4 from the field and 2-4 from the line for two points as the Grizz mauled the Stars, 99-79. J.R. Smith, first-round selection by the New Orleans Hornets, led the Stars with 19 points (7-21 FG, 2-11 3-pt. FG, 3-3 FT) in 37 minutes.

On Wednesday, Memphis got hammered by the Knicks 95-72. Lang was in the game for 12 minutes, scored two points (1-2 FG) and had four boards and one steal.

The boxscore of Sunday's Grizzlies-Warriors game was not available late last night. Memphis will finish out the week in Long Beach against the Lakers on Tuesday and the Mavericks on Thursday and Friday.


* Nikki Teasley, of the Los Angeles Sparks, has been named as a starter to the team the WNBA will put together to test the U.S. Women's Olympic Team on August 5 (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET) in New York City. The "WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Game at Radio City" is the final event scheduled for the U.S. team in preparation for the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Teasley will be joined by Anna DeForge (Phoenix), Nykesha Sales (Connecticut), Cheryl Ford (Detroit) and Taj McWilliams-Franklin (Connecticut) on the WNBA All-Stars starting five.

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