Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

This week's update on former Tar Heel hoopsters ... Pictured -- Dante Calabria.


* Playoffs in the European countries are either underway or about to get started. Here's a rundown on the many former Tar Heels involved in postseason play abroad:

In the top pro league in The Netherlands, coach Randy Wiel, along with assistant coach Walter Davis and point guard Derrick Phelps, could not get beyond the semifinals last week. Their Nijmegen EiffelTowers, the two-seed, got eliminated 3-1 in the semis. An overtime loss and a double OT setback to the Amsterdam Astronauts kept them from reaching the finals.

In the Russian Superleague, both Ed Cota (Dynamo St. Petersburg, fifth-place) and Shammond Williams (UNICS Kazan, third-place) stand at 1-1 in best-of-five quarterfinals action. Cota and Williams can only meet if they get to the Russian League finals.

The Italian League playoffs begin this week and will include Dante Calabria of fourth-place Armani Jeans Milano and Vasco Evtimov of sixth-place Lottomatica Roma.

Spain's ACB League playoffs are a more than a week away, but Ademola Okulaja (Pamesa Valencia) won't be involved since his team did not qualify. Okulaja has also missed the last several weeks due to swelling of his right knee after recuperating from arthroscopic surgery. Kris Lang is still with Unicaja Malaga as an injury replacement player and Malaga (currently in fifth-place) is headed for the playoffs. Lang has played in six games since arriving in Spain (15.3 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 5 rpg and 20-27 FG for 74 percent).

Henrik Rodl, the coach of Alba Berlin since midseason, has guided his squad to the German League regular season title and will begin a quarterfinal series versus eighth-place Ludwigsburg this week.


* Former Tar Heel star Steve Bucknall ('89) recently ended his sixteenth pro season in Antibes, France. Bucknall's club -- Olympique Antibes -- finished short of making the French Pro B playoffs with a mark of 10-22. For the 2004-05 campaign, Bucknall played 29 games and averaged 31.7 minutes, 7.0 points, and 2.6 rebounds.

Coming up next for Bucknall will be his annual "Carolina Experience" youth basketball camp and coaching seminar. The event is scheduled for July 25 through July 30 in London, England, at the Crystal Palace Sports Centre. The speaker this year is NBA European scout Rudy D'Amico of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bucknall began his pro career in 1989 with the Los Angeles Lakers when the London native became the first Englishman to play in the NBA. No word yet on whether Bucknall will be back on the court for a seventeenth season.

More information is available at www.bucknallessentialskills.com about the basketball camp.


* Kenny Smith is busy right now providing commentary for TNT's NBA playoff coverage. But from July 23rd through the 28th, Smith will turn his attention to "Kenny Smith's Carolina Basketball Camp" on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Dean E. Smith Center and Woollen Gym will be used for the basketball camp for boys and girls 8-17, and Vincent Smith, Kenny's brother, is the camp director, according to www.carolinabasketballcamp.com, the camp's website.

The website also notes that many of UNC's current men and women basketball players serve as coaches at the camp.


Here's a list of some Tar Heels with a birthday to celebrate this month:

  •  8: Joy Hairston (23)

  •  8: Marcus Ginyard (18)

  • 10: Jenni Laaksonen (24)

  • 12: George Karl (54)

  • 17: Buzz Peterson (42)

  • 17: Dave Popson (41)

  • 17: Hubert Davis (35)

  • 19: Ed Cota (29)

  • 22: David May (38)

  • 24: Mitch Kupchak (51)

  • 24: Elizabeth Coughran (25)

  • 28: Ronald Curry (26)

  • 30: Vasco Evtimov (28)

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