OKULAJA PREPS FOR EUROBASKET
* Following his excellent NBA summer league play last week with San Antonio at the Rocky Mountain Revue in Utah, 13.6 ppg over 5 games, Ademola Okulaja is back in Germany to begin practice with the German National Team that will be in Sweden during September for the 2003 European Championship.
"Salt Lake City was another good experience for me. At this time I do not know what the future holds," the former Tar Heel star told Inside Carolina via e-mail from Germany regarding his NBA status. Ademola also alerted us that his official website -- www.okulaja.com -- is being renovated and hopefully will be online in the next week or two. "It is definitely a step above the current one," he added.
CARTER JOKES, DANCES, DUNKS FOR CHARITY
* The sellout crowd (19,800) in Toronto Friday night for Vince Carter's third annual Charity All-Star Game expected it to be more fun than game. And Vince Carter, and some of his friends, did not disappoint them.
Carter entertained early and often. There was the faking of an ankle injury at the start of the game, some dancing and strutting to the loud hip-hop music that was played. The Air Canada Center crowd "went nuts when Carter danced at center court" during a break in the third quarter, reported the Canadian Press. And there were some Carteresque dunks thrown down for good measure. Most notably, a reverse alley-oop jam from a pass by former Tar Heel teammate Shammond Williams and a "spectacular dunk" in the games last minute.
According to the Toronto Globe and Mail game report, Shammond also had the crowd in a frenzy when he stood on a press row table at courtside and "shook his behind for the crowd. Carter nearly fell down laughing."
Antawn Jamison, another former Carolina teammate, was also a participant on Carter's victorious (144-128) Ol' School Players squad. Former Tar Heel and Toronto native Rick Fox was in attendance, but did not play as he recovers from foot surgery.
The event raised $140,000 for Carter's Embassy of Hope charity foundation for the benefit of Toronto's urban youth. Carter also bought 1,000 tickets for city health-care workers that helped fight against SARS earlier this year.
CURRY TRYING TO CATCH ON
* After a year as a quarterback, kick returner, punt returner, safety and emergency punter for the Oakland Raiders, former UNC two-sport star Ronald Curry was told by Raiders coach Bill Callahan during the offseason his best chance to make the team was as a wide receiver. "From that point on, I saw myself as a wide receiver," Curry told the Oakland Tribune last week.
The early reviews from the first days of Oakland's training camp for Curry as a pass catcher have been glowing --
... Coach Callahan in the San Francisco Chronicle: "He has excellent understanding of the offense. He has been extremely impressive in his ability to catch the ball in flight, and make a lot of oddball catches."
... Raiders QB Rich Gannon in the Tribune: "He has really emerged. He's had sessions that were unbelievable."
... Tribune staff writer and camp observer Jerry McDonald: "He's caught balls thrown too far in front of him. He's reached back for passes thrown behind him. He catches the ball smoothly and at awkard angles."
Callahan even has ideas of using Curry to surprise defenses the way the Steelers use trick plays, like options and reverses, with multi-talented receivers Hines Ward (Georgia) and Antwaan Randle El (Indiana), both former college quarterbacks. "It's obvious Ronald can do that for an offense," Callahan told the Chronicle.
Being a training-camp sensation is not enough though to make the roster, and Curry, still wearing No. 1, knows it. "You can help yourself make the team in practice, but it's really how you perform in the games," the former Tar Heel PG/QB told the Tribune. The Raiders preseason opener is August 8 against St. Louis.
KARL TALKS ABOUT FIRING, FUTURE
* George Karl spoke to the press last Tuesday at a youth basketball camp in the Milwaukee area about issues regarding his recent sudden firing as coach of the Bucks with one year still on his contract.
"There's a depression and there's rejection. There's an emptiness when I wake up in the morning of not having a job. I'm not over that," Karl said in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report on the press conference.
"I was ready to coach and I'm disappointed that I'm not coaching, but I do have respect for them that they are going to honor my contract," Karl added.
His future includes plenty of golf, catching up with old friends, talking with friends in the NBA and college basketball and maybe a year as a TV analyst before a return to coaching in 2004-05. Turner Sports is considering the replacement of departed NBA game analysts Danny Ainge (Boston G.M.) and Jeff Van Gundy (Houston coach). ABC and ESPN also carry NBA games.
Karl said his future does not include being an unpaid assistant coach at Boise State, where his son Coby is on the basketball team. "I'm sure I'll be seeing a lot of Boise State games, but the rumors I will be working there as an assistant are not true," Karl told the press corps.
The report also noted that Karl stated the only college coaching job he would be interested in was at his alma mater, North Carolina.
LYNCH SEEKING CONTRACT EXTENSION
* The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that George Lynch is talking to the Hornets about adding some years to his current contract that expires in 2005. Lynch is signed for $2.8 million and $3 million over the next two seasons.
"We're taking a real hard look at it, but I'm not saying we got anything done," Hornets GM Bob Bass told the paper last week. "I've been talking to George's agent."
Lynch, a 10-year vet, started 32 times last season with avarges of 6.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals, and with a big contribution on defense, as the Hornets went 20-12 in those games Lynch started.
This week (August 4-8), Lynch will be in La Mesa, California to run a youth basketball camp, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I enjoy making [camps] affordable ($200) for all kids and allowing them to learn the game correctly," Lynch said. "We also want to teach kids life skills so they can be positive influences in the community. And I am at my camp every minute of every day."
JOHNSON, HICKORY TAKE CBL TITLE
* Will Johnson helped the Hickory cause with 14 points on the way to a dominating 143-94 win over Wilmington on Saturday in the Carolinas Basketball League championship game.
Johnson enjoyed Hickory's 23-0 season and his return to the Hickory High School gym. "It was great to be able to come back home and play. I have a lot of good memories from playing here and it was great to come back and experience the same kind of memories with a different team," Johnson told the Hickory Daily Record.
"I loved playing with my teammates this year. We all got along great and, from what I hear about summer basketball, that's pretty rare," added Johnson, who will be off to Madrid, Spain soon to continue his pro basketball venture overseas.
TAR HEEL BIRTHDAYS OF AUGUST
Roy Williams: 8-1 (53) ... Ranzino Smith: 8-1 (37) ... Rick Duckett: 8-3 (46) ... David Daly: 8-6 (43) ... David Cason: 8-12 (31) ... Ed Geth: 8-12 (29) ... Darrell Elston: 8-15 (51) ... Adam Boone: 8-16 (22) ... Charlotte Smith-Taylor: 8-23 (30) ... Bill Bunting: 8-26 (56) ... Fred Quartlebaum: 8-30 (36)