JAMISON, OKULAJA COLLIDE IN JAPAN
* ... A young and talented Team USA has buzzed through six games (6-0) at the FIBA 2006 World Championship in Japan to stand among the eight teams that remain in pursuit of a world championship ending. Antawn Jamison has clearly become a role player with limited playing time (9.8 mpg) for this squad. Brad Miller also gets limited playing time 50 minutes in four games played (12.5 pg). Jamison averages 3.8 points and 1.8 rebounds with five steals. He is shooting 32 percent from the floor on 9-28 with 5-14 of that coming on three-pointers for 36 percent.
The USA has advanced to the quarterfinals and has a meeting with Germany and Dirk Nowitzki (24.5 ppg) on Wednesday night in Japan (6:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2).
For Jamison, the game is also a reunion with his former Tar Heel teammate Ademola Okulaja, a long-time member of the German national team. Germany (5-1) reached the quarterfinals with a 78-77 nailbiter over Nigeria, Okulaja's native country. Okulaja was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and moved to Germany when he was three-years-old.
Okulaja, the German team captain, came through in that game with a big effort that produced 19 points and eight rebounds. Okulaja has averaged 25 minutes, 11.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in six games while shooting 22-45 (.489) from the field, 7-19 (.368) on threes and 9-11 (.818) on free throws.
The winner of Germany and the USA meets the winner of Greece (6-0) vs. France (4-2) on Friday (6:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2) in the semis. The winner of that game faces Argentina, Turkey, Spain or Lithuania in the gold medal game on Sunday (6:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2).
The trip to Japan for the worlds ended in disappointment for Panama and Ed Cota. The Panamanians went winless through five games in the prelims against Angola, Japan, Spain, Germany and New Zealand. Cota averaged 21.4 minutes, 3.4 points (7-16 2-pt. FG, 0-3 3-pt. FG, 3-4 FT), 1.6 assists and 1.4 rebounds.
Makhtar Ndiaye suited up for Senegal in Japan and posted 19.5 mpg, 5 ppg and 4.5 rpg while shooting 1-4 on 2-point attempts and 6-12 from beyond the arc in four games. Senegal was eliminated after going 0-5 in group play.
Other ACC players in Japan include Maryland's Ekene Ibekwe (Nigeria, 2-4), Engin Atsur (Turkey) of NC State, and Darius Songaila (Lithuania, 4-2) and Jamaal Levy (Panama, 0-5) from Wake Forest. Nigerian Ibekwe turned in an outstanding performance against Germany in the Round of 16 with 22 points and 10 boards.
For more about the 2006 World Basketball Championship consult USA Basketball and FIBA 2006.
COACH SMITH A "GREAT SPORTS LEGEND"
* ... Former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith will be among the sports figures honored at the 21st annual Great Sports Legends Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom in New York City on September 19, the Buoniconti Fund, a fundraiser for The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, announced last week.
Others being honored at the event are Lance Armstrong (Cycling), Michael Chang (Tennis), Wade Boggs (Baseball), Patrick Ewing (Basketball), Emmitt Smith (Football), and John Vanbiesbrouck (Hockey).
More than two million dollars has been pledged to The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis by the organizers of the Great Sports Legends Dinner.
KARL ADDS ASSISTANT; 14ERS NAME WOLF
* ... George Karl has selected Mike Dunlap of Metro State (Div. II, Denver, Col.) to fill the assistant coach vacancy on his Denver Nuggets coaching staff.
Dunlap had a 248-50 mark at Metro State during nine seasons that included two D-2 national titles. He previously coached as an assistant at Southern Cal, Iowa State and Loyola Marymount.
* ... The NBADL Colorado 14ers expansion club recently announced that former Tar Heel Joe Wolf would be that organization's first head coach and general manager. The Colorado D-league franchise is based in Broomfield and is the NBA affiliate for the Nuggets, Nets and Raptors.
Wolf developed a passion for coaching during a two-year period of sitting in on practices and studying game tapes with George Karl six years ago when Karl coached the Milwaukee Bucks, the Denver Post reported.
"I don't think Joe ever missed a day. He said he wanted to coach. He worked hard," Karl told the Post. "I've always thought Joe thought like a head coach, like the leader of the pack."
Wolf is an 11-year NBA veteran that includes two tours with the Nuggets. The 14ers? That refers to the many mountain ranges in Colorado that exceed 14,000 feet.
GEORGIA REPLACES WILLIAMS
* ... The international tour of former Tar Heel and current Los Angeles Laker Shammond Williams appears to have come to an end. Williams has spent the last two seasons overseas (Russia and Spain) and also played for the national team of the Republic of Georgia during 2004 and 2005.
The nation of Georgia has brought in American Tyrone Ellis of Southern Nazarene (Okla.) to fill the naturalized citizen roster spot in place of Williams, as reported by Georgia Today recently. Each country is limited to having only one naturalized citizen on the national team roster.
Georgia is slated to begin play in September in Eurobasket Division B qualifying where they seek promotion to the FIBA Europe Division A level for Eurobasket 2007.
EARLY SEPTEMBER BIRTHDAYS
- September 2: Mike Pepper (48)
- September 3: George Lynch (36) and Kevin Madden (40)
- September 8: Byron Sanders (23)
- September 9: Walter Davis (52)
- September 10: Curtis Hunter (43)
GRIDIRON TAR HEEL PROS
* ... According to the alumni list of NFL players maintained by IC, there are 34 players from the University of North Carolina on an NFL roster.
The current list, with one week of preseason games to go, includes five former Tar Heels designated as rookies. Those looking to get some experience in the NFL in 2006 are QB Matt Baker (Dallas), DE Tommy Davis (New Orleans), DT Chase Page (San Diego) and KR-WR Wallace Wright (N.Y. Jets).
Dallas QB Matt Baker had his shot of staying with the Cowboys increased last week with the release of third-string QB Drew Henson (Michigan). That leaves Baker behind starter Drew Bledsoe (Washington State) and backup Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois and former Div. I-AA Player of the Year) on the depth chart.