Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

This week's update on former Tar Heel hoopsters: Noel preparing for NBA Draft; Phelps, Williams, Calabria, Okulaja playing, while Wiel and Rodl coaching, in postseason in Europe; and many more updates ...


* ... David Noel is in the process of getting his pro basketball career started and has already had workouts for the New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz. Next on his agenda is a trip to Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, the site of this year's NBA Pre-Draft Camp. DraftExpress.com reports that Noel has accepted an invitation and will participate in the event that begins on Tuesday.

A recap of Noel's recent workout for Chicago by DraftExpress.com noted that he impressed as a defender and leader, and shot the ball "fairly well" from NCAA and NBA three-point range. He weighed in at 228 pounds, with the body-type of a college power forward, which limits his quickness and first step. It was suggested Noel might fare better in his NBA bid if he lost some muscles and "got down to an NBA shooting guard's proportions." An unnamed observer in Chicago stated, "I think he has a role in the NBA, if he can accept it," according to the report.

"Any mock draft is nothing more than an educated guess," SI.com duly notes. That statement is followed by their 2006 draft projection that places Noel, a "6-6, 232 pound, Small Forward," as the 13th selection of the second round in the 2006 NBA Draft (the 43rd overall pick by New Orleans) in New York City on June 28.

The list of players at DraftExpress.com that have accepted invites to Orlando includes Sean Dockery (Duke) and Nik Caner-Medley (Maryland).

* ... Denver Nuggets coach George Karl told the Denver Post he will be at the NBA's pre-draft camp gathering in Orlando, but only because his son, Coby Karl, a junior at Boise State, will take part.

Karl also informed the Post he would not lobby to bring coach Joe Wolf from the Idaho Stampede (recently added to the NBADL) to coach the Colorado 14ers, Denver's new NBADL affiliate.

"I'd feel uncomfortable asking because I respect the people at Idaho," said Karl, who recently sold his ownership interest in the former CBA franchise that is now part of the NBADL. "I think he's under contract for another year." Wolf has coached Idaho in the Continental Basketball Association for the last two seasons.


Holland: A couple of weeks ago, the Den Bosch EiffelTowers took Game 7 and won the Finals 4-3 with a 78-68 homecourt victory. In his second year coaching in Holland, former Tar Heel player and assistant coach Randy Wiel could celebrate a Dutch League championship.

Wiel was described as happy and relieved in local press reports for coming through with the title in the playoffs after his squad had won the regular-season crown with a mark of 20-6. "I'll be heading home this week," said Wiel when he e-mailed Inside Carolina shortly after coaching his team to a championsip. "I can't wait to get back home and eat some familiar food. I'm talking about pancakes at IHOP, and a huge steak at Outback's. You can't get those things over here," said a triumphant Wiel from Den Bosch, Holland.

Germany: After three games in the best-of-five Finals the home team has been unable to secure a victory. That has Henrik Rodl's ALBA Berlin squad down 2-1 with a road game coming up on Tuesday in Cologne. Game 3 saw Berlin lose 82-80 after holding a 55-32 lead with 14 minutes to go. Cologne's Immanuel McElroy (Cincinnati) hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to stun a packed house of 10,050 at Max Schmeling Arena in Berlin. "That was a harsh defeat for us," stated Rodl. "We must now be confident at Cologne and even the series."

Berlin features Hollis Price of Oklahoma and Clemson's Sharrod Ford. Rodl lost his starting center and German League MVP Jovo Stanojevic to a serious knee injury just prior to the playoffs causing Ford to be moved into the starting lineup.

Derrick Phelps and Bamberg failed to reach the semis after being surprised by Cologne 3-2. With Bamberg knocked out, the expected meeting in the Finals between former ALBA Berlin teammates Rodl and Phelps did not take place.

Spain: Shammond Williams has reached the ACB semis with F.C. Barcelona. After a loss yesterday they are down 2-0 in the best-of-five series. Williams began the playoffs troubled by a sports hernia injury, but has not missed any games. Ed Cota was not retained by Barcelona for the playoffs after being with them since midseason.

Italy: Dante Calabria and A.J. Milano took Benetton Treviso (the 2-seed) to five games before losing a best-of-five and getting bounced from the Lega A first round. Treviso is led by high-scoring Drew Nicholas (Maryland) and top NBA prospect Andrea Bargnani.

Russia: Ademola Okulaja reached the Superleague Finals with BC Khimky only to get swept in three games by the best team in Europe, CSKA Moscow.


* ... The national team of Great Britain (the basketball federations of England, Scotland and Wales) have appointed American Chris Finch, 36, the new coach. Former Tar Heel and England basketball vet Steve Bucknall approves and is ready to lend his support to improve the status of basketball in England.

"It's just a case of how fast he can get his point across to the players and, yes, I would like to be a part of the coaching set up," Bucknall recently told PA Sport. "He's been down to my summer camps a few times to work with the kids and his work has always been good.''

Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng (Duke) has declared his willingness to be part of the Great Britain contingent, but there are still issues with his British passport application. "They have to get behind their better players and if he is available I would suggest they move quickly," Bucknall added, according to the article at fibaeurope.com. "It's vital and I would suggest whoever is in charge of that sort of stuff makes it number one on their list.''

The primary goal for Great Britain is to get promoted from EuroBasket Division B to Division A. In order to get the home-team berth at the 2012 London Olympic Games basketball tournament, the Great Britain team must show that they are competitive in European basketball. The qualifying process for promotion begins in September.

Bucknall, 40, made his final appearance as a player for England at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia back in March. The first Englishman to play in the NBA helped England to a third-place finish at the first basketball competiton ever held during a Commonwealth Games event.

He also played 27 games for the DMU Leicester Riders of the British Basketball League and averaged 31.8 minutes, 9.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists.


NCAA Basketball ...

King Rice named assistant coach by Vanderbilt (SEC). Rice, 37, previously worked with Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings at Illinois State from 1994-1998. Former Tar Heel Brad Frederick is also an assistant coach at Vanderbilt.

Butch Estes named assistant coach by Miami (Fla.) (ACC). Estes had been head coach at Miami-Dade Community College the past three years.

International Basketball ...

Ed Cota among a list of 30 players for trials for the national team of Panama that will begin on June 5. Players will be selected to play in the Central American and Carribean Games, Centrobasket and the FIBA World Championship in Japan. European stars Ruben Douglas (New Mexico) and Ruben Garces (Providence) are also listed for the trials, along with Jamaal Levy (Wake Forest) and J.R. Pinnock (George Washington).

WNBA ...

Coretta Brown and Nikita Bell released by Indiana during training camp.

Sylvia Crawley released by San Antonio during training camp. Crawley, now the coach of the Ohio University women's team, was attempting to rejoin the Silver Stars afer being away from the WNBA for two years.


* ... The New York Post reports that SLAM Magazine will feature the Michael Jordan Era Dream Team in the publication's 100th issue, as selected by Michael Jordan.

According to the Post article, Jordan is on the team along with point guard Magic Johnson, power forward Charles Barkley, small forwards Larry Bird and his Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen, with Hakeem Olajuwon getting the starting nod at center over Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O'Neal.

Jordan likes Olajuwon in the pivot for his team, according to the preview of the SLAM article, because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wasn't in his prime during that time, Ewing didn't have enough versatility and that guy Shaq, sure he's dominant now, but when he first came along, well ... if Shaq doesn't recall Hakeem being better than him he's got a little amnesia.

The Post also notes that M.J. "chose UNC teammate James Worthy over Kevin McHale and Karl Malone at the four," but did not provide any other details.

The SLAM mag anniversary issue (the 100th) with the Jordan Era Dream Team is expected on newsstands later this week.


* ... Those listed below are among Tar Heels born in the month of June:

  • June 2: Al Wood (48)

  • June 3: Billy Cunningham (63)

  • June 7: George "The Blind Bomber" Glamack (1919 – 1987)

  • June 10: John Greene (38)

  • June 11: Dickson Gribble (60)

  • June 12: Eddie Fogler (58) and Antawn Jamison (30)

  • June 14: Sam Perkins (45) and Brian Bersticker (27)

  • June 18: Marty Hensley (39) and Chrystal Baptist (24)

  • June 19: Marvin Williams (20)

  • June 21: Tiffany Tucker (24)

  • June 22: Ed Wills (34) and Danny Green (19)

  • June 25: Jennifer Nelms (23)

  • June 26: Raymond Felton (22)

  • June 28: Leah Sharp (27)

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