Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

This week's update on former Tar Heel hoopsters: Jamison one cut away from making Team USA; Curry slowly returning to NFL action; WNBA update; Carter still cashing in; August birthdays ...


* ... He still has one more hurdle to overcome before reaching his goal to be on the 12-man roster that will become Team USA 2006 at the FIBA World Championship in Japan starting on August 19. But former Tar Heel Antawn Jamison is among the team's 15 finalists that will resume training in Las Vegas today.

Phase two of training camp in Vegas begins today and ends with an exhibition game on Thursday night with Puerto Rico at the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus. The training site shifts to China from August 6 - 8 and includes exhibition games there against China and Brazil.

The final roster of 12 players does not have to be made official until just prior to the start of the 2006 World Championship on August 19.

LeBron James (Cleveland), Dwyane Wade (Miami), Elton Brand (L.A. Clippers), Dwight Howard (Orlando), Chris Paul (New Orleans), Gilbert Arenas (Washington), Chris Bosh (Toronto), Kirk Hinrich (Chicago) and Carmelo Anthony (Denver) look like the frontrunners for the squad.

Barring injury, it would appear Jamison (Washington) is in competition with Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix), Bruce Bowen (San Antonio), Shane Battier (Houston), Joe Johnson (Atlanta) and Brad Miller (Sacramento) to avoid being among the last three players left off the team that will represent the United States in international play.

Former Tar Heels Ademola Okulaja (Germany), Ed Cota (Panama) and Makhtar Ndiaye (Senegal) are also expected to play at the 2006 World Championship in Japan.


* ... Former Tar Heel two-sport star Ronald Curry is once again trying to make it back as a wide receiver with the Oakland Raiders after sustaining a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. Curry has been out of action since the second game of the 2005 season.

In 2004, Curry was well on his way to an excellent season with 50 receptions (many spectacular, six for TDs) and 679 yards before missing the final four games. That was also caused by an Achilles tendon tear.

Curry is feeling good at the start of training camp for his fifth NFL seaon. "I've been about 100 percent for the last two months," Curry said, according to realfootball365.com. The Raiders are taking a very cautious approach with Curry as they prepare for the 2006 season. Curry is on an individual workout program at training camp, according to media reports, and has been placed on the PUP (physically-unable-to-perform) list.

"We're still looking at Curry to see where he is and make sure he's capable of doing it," said the Raiders new coach Art Shell, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. "We'll listen to the trainers. They'll give us direction on that."

The Raiders start the NFL preseason schedule against Philadelphia in the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday (Aug. 6) in Canton, Ohio (NBC, 8 p.m. ET). Curry won't be on the field for that one, but is surely looking to be ready for the season opener on September 11 against San Diego (ESPN, 10:15 p.m. ET).


* ... It was a quick transition for North Carolina standout La'Tangela Atkinson. From a trip to the Final Four with the Tar Heels in early April to playing-for-pay on May 20 in the WNBA for the Indiana Fever.

"Playing pro basketball is actually better than I thought. The veteran players are always willing to teach and I'm willing to learn so I'm learning a lot from them in practice, and I'm just carrying it over to the games," Atkinson informed IC recently via the "Ask the Fever" feature at her team's official Web site.

When asked about any nicknames she might go by, the 6-2 WNBA rookie from Bishopville, South Carolina, replied: "Usually Tangie, Tank, Tangerine ... that's about it."

About playing pro overseas when the WNBA season is over, Atkinson, 22, said she intends to play overseas, but doesn't know what team she will play for yet.

For now, Atkinson has her focus on coming off the bench as a reserve forward for the Fever and finishing her first WNBA season. She has seven more games to go and a trip to the postseason since the Fever (now 17-10) clinched a playoff berth Saturday despite losing to Washington.

There's an Atkinson wallpaper display available at the Indiana Web site. Her teammate Charlotte Smith and former Fever player Coretta Brown (now with Chicago) are also featured on that page.

* ... Former Tar Heel Nikki Teasley of the Washington Mystics is also playoff-bound. Washington (15-13) clinched a spot in the WNBA postseason with six games remaining after a victory over Charlotte last night. Teasley left Saturday's game against Indiana early with a back problem, but returned Sunday and scored 14 points.


* ... The most recent listing of the top-earning American athletes by Sports Illustrated and SI.com -- "The Fortunate 50" -- reveals that former Tar Heel star Vince Carter is still among them.

Carter, of the New Jersey Net, checks in on SI's recently posted top-50 list at No. 27, a few notches down from last year's No. 21 ranking. Carter's estimated endorsement income at $5 million. Along with a salary of $13,848,157 that gives him a total earnings figure of $18,848,157, according to SI.com.

A nice number for sure, but still $91,843 behind his New Jersey Nets teammate Jason Kidd at No. 26 with earnings of $18,940,000 ($16.44 million in salary and $2.5 million from endorsements).

Golfer Tiger Woods is the overwhelming leader in income among U.S. athletes with an earnings figure of $97.6 million, with $87,000,000 of that amount attributed to endorsements, as noted by the article posted at SI.com.


'Happy Birthday' salutes go out during August to the following Tar Heels:

  • August 1: Roy Williams (56) and Ranzino Smith (40)

  • August 3: Rick Duckett (49)

  • August 6: David Daly (46)

  • August 8: Woody Durham (65)

  • August 12: Ed Geth (32)

  • August 14: Greg Ellis (31)

  • August 15: Darrell Elston (54)

  • August 16: Adam Boone (25)

  • August 23: Charlotte Smith (33)

  • August 26: Bill Bunting (59)

  • August 27: Madison Hedgecock (25)

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