Previous North Carolina men’s basketball player Ademola Okulaja has died at age 46, the university verified on Tuesday.
Okulaja played from 1995-99 in the similar recruiting class that involved Vince Carter and Antwan Jamison. They would progress to two Remaining Fours which include for the duration of famous coach Dean Smith’s last time and the 1st two of coach Invoice Guthridge’s tenure.
Shammond Williams, Okulaja’s teammate for three seasons at UNC, identified as him an “outstanding individual” who was incredibly faithful.
“If he was with you, he was with you, he did not fluctuate from that,” claimed Williams, who currently serves as an assistant mentor for Old Dominion’s women’s basketball staff. “He was just an fantastic man or woman. He’s a person that you want to go to war with, just a selfless specific who sacrificed his activity for the larger very good of the group.”
The 6-foot-9 ahead was born in Nigeria, but his loved ones moved to West Berlin, Germany when he was however a toddler. It was in Germany where by former guard Henrik Rodl, who performed on UNC’s 1993 nationwide title team, observed Okulaja enjoy and prompt to Smith and Guthridge that he may be a excellent suit.
He was a 1,000-place scorer in his occupation with the Tar Heels. His best season statistically arrived as a senior when he averaged 13.9 details and 8.4 rebounds. It attained him initially workforce All-ACC honors and he was named the Most Worthwhile Participant as voted on by the workforce.
Okulaja played skillfully in Europe and would also signify Germany in two FIBA World Cup tournaments. In 2002, playing along with Dirk Nowitzki, Okulaja assisted Germany get a bronze medal in Indianapolis.
He didn’t get the probability to star with Germany when it qualified for the 2008 Olympics. Medical doctors uncovered a cancerous tumor in his backbone that 12 months and it precipitated the stop of his basketball profession.
It is what designed Okulaja pivot toward his existence following basketball. He gained a master’s degree in sports marketing though battling cancer. With it in remission, he turn out to be a sports agent and experienced Dennis Schroder, who at present plays for the NBA’s Houston Rockets, among the his clientele.
This story was initially posted Could 17, 2022 2:59 PM.