Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

This week's update on former Tar Heels: Sanders heads overseas; Noel's NBA career about to begin; NBDL expansion draft news; Fox on TV; Kenny Smith keeping busy ...


* ... North Carolina grad Byron Sanders ('06) arrived in Germany last week after signing his first pro contract to play for Phoenix Hagen, a German second-division club.

The city of Hagen is located northeast of Cologne and has a population of about 200,000.

During the summer, Sanders had an opportunity to be observed by pro scouts when he played for the Los Angeles Lakers in the Southern California Summer Pro League in Long Beach, California.

* ... Russian Superleague club UMCC Ekaterinburg announced the addition of guard Nikki Teasley of the Washington Mystics and center Cheryl Ford of the Detroit Shock for the 2006-07 season.

Teasley, 27, played for Ekaterinburg in 2004 and has played in South Korea and Hungary during recent WNBA offseasons. UMCC Ekaterinburg also competes on the women's Euroleague circuit.


* ... Dime Magazine quizzed former Tar Heel and NBA rookie-to-be David Noel at the league's Rookie Photo Shoot in Tarrytown, New York, back in August. He included himself among his rundown of the top dunkers of his rookie class along with James White, Rodney Carney and Rudy Gay. "A lot of cats in this class can jump, man. It's gonna be an electrifying year," said Noel.

Drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round with pick #39 of the '06 NBA draft, the former high school football star still gets hit with the gridiron questions. He likes the Colts, Cardinals, Bucs, Michael Vick, Peyton Manning and T.O. As for his own NFL ambitions, Noel responded: "This basketball thing is what I wanted to do, and I'm here now, so I'm sticking with it."

No big purchases for himself since being drafted by the Bucks he said, but he did buy his mom a new car. He might have picked up some new CDs though. "I'm liking Lil' Wayne, T.I., G-Unit, Eminem, a lot of R&B, too. I'm more of an R&B fan than a rap fan," said Noel when asked what was in his CD player right now.

Noel will soon be putting on a No. 34 jersey again. (That's the number he is listed with on the team's roster posted online.) This time though it will be at a training camp with the Milwaukee Bucks next week somewhere in Wisconsin instead of the friendly confines of the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, as he has done for the previous four years.

The first chance to get on the court as a pro will be the preseason opener in Minnesota on October 11 versus Rashad McCants (although he will be unavailable due to a knee injury) and the Timberwolves. Then a trip to Charlotte and a meeting with old friends Raymond Felton and Sean May on October 13 against the Bobcats.

After four games split between Texas and Milwaukee, there's a return match with Charlotte on October 26 in Green Bay, sure to be more questions about football in the land of Lombardi and Brett Favre. The preseason slate for Noel ends October 27 with a trip to Grand Forks, North Dakota, for another game with Minnesota.

If all has gone as hoped and planned up to that point, the 6-6 super-athletic guard/forward from North Carolina will have secured a spot on the roster. He'll be wearing No. 34 for the Bucks in Detroit against Rasheed Wallace and the Pistons on November 1 for the start of the 2006-07 NBA season, and on his way to an electrifying rookie year.


* ... The Anaheim Arsenal nabbed the rights to Jawad Williams with the third selection in the expansion draft held by the NBA Development League, last week. Ryan Randle of Maryland was also drafted by Anaheim. Last season, Williams played in Spain and in the NBADL for the now-defunct Fayetteville Patriots.

The Los Angeles D-Fenders claimed the D-League rights to former Carolina defensive ace Jackie Manuel in the sixth round, 24th overall. Manuel was allocated to the D-League's Fayetteville franchise last year, but did not play due to foot and ankle injuries.

Joe Wolf, general manager and coach of the expansion Colorado 14ers, drafted Virginia's Elton Brown with the first pick of the draft. Others taken from the ACC: Anthony Grundy (NC State), Sherrod Ford (Clemson) and Will Bynum (GT), all by Bakersfield.

The NBADL regular draft takes place on November 2. The Continental Basketball Association draft will be held tomorrow night.


* ... Former Tar Heel Rick Fox is no longer a pro basketball player, but he will be playing one on cable TV.

Fox, 37, has signed on for a role on the new FX series "Dirt." The hour-long drama features former "Friends" star Courteney Cox as a tabloid magazine boss. The multi-episode assignment casts Fox as Prince Tyrese, a basketball star with marital problems.

The show recently went into production and is expected to be available to air in early 2007, according to press reports.

Last week, Fox appeared briefly as himself in the first episode of the CBS drama "Shark" starring James Woods.


* ... Former Tar Heel Kenny "the Jet" Smith has been in the news quite a bit recently ...

  • The TNT "Inside The NBA" studio analyst will also work about 20 Knicks' games on the MSG cable network as a sub for Walt Frazier, as he did last season, says the New York Post.
  • In New Orleans over the weekend, Smith's 2006 Katrina Relief Weekend had several events planned to once again raise funds to be used to provide aid for Hurricane Katrina survivors.
  • On September 2 at Stevenson Ranch, California, Smith, 41, and actress Gwendolyn Osborne, 28, were married in a private ceremony attended by 250 friends and family members. Osborne's TV and film work includes appearances on "The Price Is Right," "Eve" and "Any Given Sunday".
  • NBA 2K7, the NBA video simulation game by 2K Sports, is due in stores this week. In addition to several enhancements, the new edition features Miami Heat star Shaquille O'Neal on the cover and offers "engrossing commentary" by announcers Kevin Harlan and Kenny Smith, according to a product press release.

News & Notes Extras: ... The New York City Basketball Hall of Fame welcomed former North Carolina star Tommy Kearns as a member, last Thursday. ... UNC grad and former Tar Heels' color commentator Mick Mixon calls the action for the Carolina Panthers and turns 48 on Sunday (Oct. 1). ... Former Tar Heel star Coretta Brown celebrates her 26th birthday next Monday (Oct. 2). ... Yesterday in Kansas City, lefty rookie relief pitcher Andrew Miller ('06) of the Detroit Tigers ended the game with a strikeout in an 11-4 win to clinch a playoff berth and send Detroit to postseason play for the first time since 1987.

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