Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

Ed Cota celebrates

This week's update on Carolina grads.

COTA CONQUERS LITHUANIA

* Ed Cota has ended another pro season overseas with a championship. Last week Cota guided his Zalgiris Kaunas team to the Lithuanian League title in six games (4-2). Zalgiris ("The Green Forest") clinched the final series with an 80-69 game six victory, as Cota scored 11, took in four rebounds and handed out seven assists.

In a fan poll at the Lithuanian basketball website Krepsinis.net, Cota was the top choice for the finals MVP. For the series, Cota averaged 39 minutes, 16.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.0 steals. He shot 54% from the field, 30.8% on 3-point field goals and made 13-of-14 (93%) from the line.

According to Eurobasket.com, Cota now has offers from Western European teams to consider in addition to a possible return with Zalgiris for next season.

WILL JOHNSON TO PLAY FOR HICKORY

* The Hickory Daily Record reported last week that Hickory native and former Tar Heel Will Johnson ('03) has been signed by the Hickory Nutz of the Carolinas Basketball League. "This is great," Johnson told the Daily Record as he embarks on his first pro season. "Returning home to play in front of family and friends and have their support, I could not ask for a better situation."

The Nutz previously signed former Duke star Nate James for the upcoming 24-game schedule that will run from June 5 (Wilmington @ Hickory) through August 6. The Charleston (W.V.) Daily Mail reported last week that Chris Carrawell was also signed by Hickory. Information on tickets is available at (828) 238-5235.

OVERSEAS PLAYOFF UPDATES ...

* It took two overtimes, and some clutch free throw shooting by Kris Lang, but Anwil Wloclawek has advanced to the Polish League finals after a 96-93 win gave them a 3-0 semifinal series sweep. Lang played 41 of the game's 50 minutes and hit two free throws near the end of the first overtime period to force another OT. Lang finished with 14 points (6-12 FG, 2-8 FT) and eight rebounds. The best-of-seven Polish League finals begins on May 30.

* J.R. Reid and Leon Casa Espana have been eliminated from the LEB (Spain) playoffs losing 3-1 in the semifinals. Reid signed with Leon on March 14. Leon needed to reach the LEB finals to be promoted to Spain's ACB league.

* Ademola Okulaja and Uncaja Malaga stand at 1-1 in the quarterfinals of Spain's ACB league playoffs. Unicaja will meet Tau Ceramica on May 29 for game three of the best-of-five series.

* The French Pro A season has ended and there will be no playoffs for Derrick Phelps and Donald Williams of CSP Limoges. Williams missed the last 12 games of the season with a thigh injury after averaging 35 minutes and 16 points in 18 (6-12) games. Phelps played the full 30-game season with 13.6 points, 4.6 assists, 1.8 steals and 35 minutes per game. Limoges went 9-21 for a 14th-place finish.

* Also from the French Pro A, Vasco Evtimov (30 Games, 18 MPG, 8.5 PPG and 7 RPG) has qualified for the playoffs with Lyon Adecco ASVEL (23-7, 3rd-place). Makhtar Ndiaye did not qualify for postseason play after JA Vichy finished 12th with a mark of 11-19.

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