Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

This week's update on former Tar Heel hoopsters ... Pictured -- Orlando Melendez.


* Game 7 in San Antonio didn't go the way Larry Brown hoped it would. The Spurs shutdown and shot down the Pistons at crunch time to keep Detroit from defending the NBA championship that they won last year under Brown and with Rasheed Wallace.

Brown's plan now is to check into the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.) on Wednesday to evaluate a medical problem that developed from complications following hip surgery in November that has not improved. Brown, 64, has said if doctors say he is healthy enough to coach that he wants to be with the Pistons again next season, according to reports by The Associated Press.

Brown's health status and future employment could also be a factor for his current assistant coaches in Detroit, Dave Hanners, Pat Sullivan and Phil Ford.

* The 2005 NBA Draft takes center stage on Tuesday (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. eastern to Midnight with a "Draft Preview" starting at 7:00) in New York City with four Tar Heels waiting to be called. Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants are expected to be selected during the first round. Most draft previews have Jawad Williams as a second-rounder. ESPN has a one-hour "Draft Special" tonight at 10 p.m. eastern.

The future Tar Heel pros have a good chance to see their first NBA action in Las Vegas. The NBA's Vegas Summer League (July 6-15) has 16 teams on the schedule.

Other NBA summer leagues include the Southern California Pro League (July 8-23) at Long Beach State, the Rocky Mountain Revue (July 15-22) in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the Minnesota Summer League (July 15-19) at the Target Center in Minneapolis.


* The Philadelphia 76ers officially announced last week that John Kuester would be an assistant coach under recently hired head coach Mo Cheeks.

Kuester has been an NBA assistant coach for 10 seasons, including seven under Larry Brown (with Philadelphia from 1997 to 2003 and with Detroit in 2004). Kuester left the Sixers to join Brown in Detroit, and went to New Jersey as an assistant this past season to be closer to his family, which has remained in the Philadelphia area.

Kuester, who spent four seasons in Philly when Cheeks was an assistant (1997-2001), said he never expected the opportunity to return to Philadelphia. "I'm very fortunate to be back with Mo Cheeks," Kuester said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. "Mo's an outstanding coach and there are not many times in this situation where you go to two different teams and get to come back home."

"Just listening to 'Q' on the floor brings back memories," Cheeks said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "He is just a guy I am very comfortable with."

Kuester also got a warm visit from Allen Iverson. The Sixers captain "didn't stop to talk with reporters, but he gave John Kuester a nice slap to the backside and a hug," the Daily News reported.


* Matt Doherty has put the final touches on his staff at Florida Atlantic University. Doherty recently promoted assistant Rex Walters to associate head coach. "I have delegated a lot of responsibility to him as he assists me in managing this program on a day-to-day basis," said Doherty, according to the school's website. "I feel this role will help him prepare to be a terrific head coach in the near future."

Doherty also announced the hiring of James Stafford and Mike Balado as assistant coaches. Stafford served as an assistant coach last year at Toledo. Balado coached at Miami Dade Community College last season and was recommended for the job at FAU by North Carolina graduate and Miami Dade head coach Butch Estes.

"Coach Estes is a terrific coach and a friend of mine. He thinks the world of Mike and feels he will be a great fit for our staff," Doherty said upon hiring Balado.


* Orlando Melendez has finished another campaign in the Puerto Rican spring pro league, the BSN.

Melendez played in 30 games for Gallitos de Isabela (6-26, 9th-place) in 2005, his tenth season in the BSN, and averaged 4.1 points and 1.9 rebounds per contest.


* A review of minor league basketball results has revealed that former Tar Heel Max Owens made a brief appearance in the World Basketball Association recently.

Back on June 2, Owens, 27, was on the court for the Macon (Ga.) Blaze of the WBA. Owens, a native of Macon, Ga., scored eight points (3-7 FG, 2-2 FT) and grabbed three boards as the Blaze downed Magic City 134-115. Owens has not appeared in any games for Macon since then, according to the team's website.


* Here's a look at the birthday list for this week:

  • July 2: Brian Reese (34)

  • July 4: Jeffrey "Geoff" Crompton (1955 - 2002)

Check back next week for the full list for the month of July.

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