Manuel, Scott Eyeing Pro Hoops Careers

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--UNC graduates and members of the 2005 NCAA Champion men's basketball team, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott, still have their eyes on professional basketball careers, but they are currently spending time with members of next year's team and lending support to Carolina Pros, Inc., now located at 214 W. Franklin Street.

Manuel, who suffered an injury to his left foot in June prior to the NBA Draft, has remained in Chapel Hill, rehabilitating his foot and lifting weights to help stay in shape. The staples were removed from his foot on Tuesday, and he expects to be in his immobilizer boot for four more weeks. Right now, his main focus is to get healthy so that he can take advantage of any opportunity that arises.

"The vet camp is coming up in October, so I'll be ready by then…" Manuel said, "[but] if that doesn't work out I'll go overseas."

Meanwhile, Scott has already had a chance to dip his toe in the proverbial NBA pool, playing for the Utah Jazz summer league team.

"I did pretty good, playing some nice minutes at point guard," Scott said. "I had a great time. It was a great experience; I learned a whole lot in two weeks. I felt good about everything…

"I'm waiting on Utah to call me back, to see if they are going to invite me back to veteran camp. If not, I have some deals overseas. I'm looking at Greece right now. My agent hooked it up. He knows some people over there."

While in Utah he stayed in touch with old friends and had a chance to spend some time with others.

"When I was in Utah, I saw Raymond, Sean, Marvin - we ate dinner together," Scott said. "Coach came out, so we saw Coach. I talked to Jawad every night I was out there. The first week we were out there, we were just practicing, and Jawad was telling me about his experiences in [Las] Vegas. I kept in touch with Jackie. It was great."

And even though it was an NBA Camp, much of the talk centered on the Tar Heels.

"When I was in Utah there were NBA players all around me and they were talking about the championship team and the games," Scott said. "It's crazy, North Carolina fans are everywhere in this world."

Both Manuel and Scott have had a chance to spend time with next season's team, Manuel during his rehab, and Scott intermittently playing pick-up games and working out around his NBA try-outs. The leadership torch has been passed down to the rising seniors, but Manuel adds a little something now and then.

"I just got finished lifting weights with those guys, Manuel said. "Whenever I can, I might say something, but I let David and Byron handle the rest."

He says that it is going to be a tough adjustment for the returning players, but that they are working extremely hard because they know next year is going to be tough.

And the freshmen?

"Just like every other freshman, they are young, they don't know what to expect, but they are working hard," Manuel said. "Hopefully, they will come around pretty fast."

"But [the team] will be all right," Manuel added. "A lot of people are counting us out, but we are going to be all right."

Scott, who has had a chance to play with and against the freshmen, says that he can already see something special in this group.

"Those guys are energetic," he said. "They are great guys, and I can't wait to see them next year because they are going to do some special things. A lot of people are saying, 'Carolina lost a lot of players,' but these guys are talented and they are hungry, so I'm excited about watching them next year."

And contrary to what Manuel has seen, he believes that they are exhibiting some characteristics of players who have been through the ACC before.

"They are relaxed. They act like they have been here for three years, already. They are not nervous about anything."

No matter where they end up, you can expect all seven members of the 2005 NCAA Champions who have moved on to be back in Chapel Hill the first week of the fall semester when they are expected to receive their championship rings from UNC, having already received their rings from the NCAA.

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