Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

This week's update on former Tar Heels: Lebo ready to begin another season at Auburn; Okulaja and Jawad Williams in NBA competition overseas; Melendez, Morrison, Fingleton sign with new overseas teams ...


* ... Auburn coach Jeff Lebo is looking forward to being surrounded by 'lunatics' when he begins his third season at Auburn University on Friday night. That would be by "Lebo's Lunatics," a group that is also known as the Auburn Basketball Student Section.

Lebo and the Auburn basketball program will open the 2006-07 basketball season and will also have the inaugural Jeff Lebo Late Night Classic 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament this Friday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn students, faculty and staff have been invited to participate in a single-elimination tournament at the conclusion of the first official men's basketball practice. After the 3-on-3 tournament winner is crowned there will be another game for that squad against Lebo and his coaching staff for the right to travel with the team to a road game this season.

"We think this is a great way to reach out to the Auburn students," said Lebo at the team Web site. "The students are vital to our team, and this will be a fun way in getting them involved from the get-go."


* ... The NBA got things started for the 2006-07 season last week by making players available to the media. NBA.com featured notes from several players that included two former Tar Heel stars.

Raymond Felton of the Charlotte Bobcats provided a posting that noted his visit to Chapel Hill during the offseason where he spent time with former Tar Heel teammates Sean May, Marvin Williams and Rashad McCants.

Among his general goals for his second year in the NBA are to win more games and reach the playoffs. He also says he has learned to take better care of his body by not eating burgers everyday.

Jerry Stackhouse of the Dallas Mavericks
included in his media-day-blog that he got back to North Carolina shortly after the disappointment of losing in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat.

"I messed around with some of the guys coming in this year. They're going to have an awesome class. It's going to be fun to watch. I do a lot of trash talking around here about UNC," Stackhouse said.

Over the summer, Stack vacationed in Mexico and worked out some but didn't play as much pick-up ball as he did in the past. He is now focused on helping Dallas grab a No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs.


* ... The NBA preseason schedule got underway last week in Moscow, Russia, one of the locations for the 2006 NBA Europe Live Tour.

Former Tar Heel Ademola Okulaja was there with Russian club, BC Khimki, for a 98-91 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. Okulaja scored 12 points (4-11 FG, 4-4 FT) with five rebounds in 32 minutes. The day before, Khimki lost 94-78 to Russian Superleague rival CSKA Moscow. Okulaja scored two points and took down two boards in 23 minutes of the preseason contest.

Jawad Williams was also in Moscow to take part in training camp activities with the L.A. Clippers. Williams did not play in the win over Khimki or the loss the following day to CSKA Moscow, 94-75.


* ... Here's a look at some of this week's NBA preseason games that are likely to involve former Tar Heels ...


  • Toronto at Washington (Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood)

  • Orlando (Jackie Manuel) at Charlotte (Raymond Felton and Sean May)

  • Dallas (Jerry Stackhouse) at NO/Okla. City

  • Utah vs. L.A. Lakers (Shammond Williams) at Fresno, Calif.

  • Detroit (Rasheed Wallace) vs. Miami at San Juan, P.R.

  • EFES Pilsen (Turkey) at Denver (George Karl)

  • New Jersey (Vince Carter) at Indiana

  • Atlanta (Marvin Williams) at Memphis

  • Milwaukee (David Noel) at Minnesota

  • Washington (Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood) at Chicago

  • Seattle at L.A. Lakers (Shammond Williams)

  • Sacramento at Dallas (Jerry Stackhouse)

  • Milwaukee (David Noel) at Charlotte (Raymond Felton and Sean May)

  • Orlando (Jackie Manuel) at NO/Okla. City

  • Detroit (Rasheed Wallace) vs. Minnesota at Omaha, Nebraska

  • New Jersey (Vince Carter) at New York

  • Atlanta (Marvin Williams) vs. Houston at Little Rock, Arkansas

  • Miami at Atlanta (Marvin Williams)
  • Detroit (Rasheed Wallace) at Memphis

  • Orlando (Jackie Manuel) at San Antonio

  • Washington (Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood) at Cleveland

  • Dallas (Jerry Stackhouse) at Milwaukee (David Noel)

  • New Jersey (Vince Carter) at Toronto

  • Phoenix vs. L.A. Lakers (Shammond Williams) at Las Vegas, Nevada

*Note: Rashad McCants of Minnesota will not play during the preseason due to a knee injury. Jeff McInnis is under contract with New Jersey, but is not attending training camp at the team's request.

News & Notes Extras: ... Orlando Melendez has signed with AS Soleuvre, a pro team in Luxembourg. This is the first time Melendez has played for a pro club outside of his native country of Puerto Rico. ... Former Tar Heel Brian Morrison (UCLA '05) now plays in Bursa, Turkey, for Oyak Renault. Morrison played six games for the Yakima Sun Kings last year in the CBA. ... Another Tar Heel transfer has also found a new team. Neil Fingleton (Holy Cross) is now in Spain playing for CB Illescas of the EBA. ... Inside Carolina has learned that UNC graduate L.J. Hepp will be the head coach of the boy's basketball team at Panther Creek, the new high school in Cary, N.C. Hepp was a JV player at Carolina, and worked in the basketball program as a graduate assistant before moving on to Stanford and Tulsa as an assistant coach.

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