Thanks to all German Carolina Club members and friends of UNC in Berlin that came out to the October meet-up!
For the first time, UNC alumni met at a regional meeting to get to know each other and discuss their Carolina experiences.
Ademola Okulaja, member of the 1995-1999 Tar Heel basketball teams and international studies graduate, shared memories from his time in Chapel Hill and explained what came after his college career.
Ademola went on to play professionally for ten years in the NBA and Europe and is today successfully running his own sports consulting company – aptly called Pro4Pros. He’s managing promising young German NBA player Dennis Schröder of the Atlanta Hawks, among other European players.
The 1999 Tar Heel MVP explained the differences between college play and Europe, one of them being the sheer size of stadiums and fan interest. “Here in Europe, it’s unfathomable that 45,000 people show up just for a shoot-around”, he said. But that’s exactly what happened during his two Final Four appearances with Carolina. “And the Duke-Carolina rivalry… Wow, that is something I didn’t understand until I actually lived it”, he added.
Having been coached by UNC legend Dean Smith is something that Ademola cherishes to this day: “Some of the things he taught us, I still follow today.”
Image: UNC Athletic Communications
Other former UNC students also chimed in on what their Carolina experience was like. University representative Daniel Lebold pointed out how vital a gathering like ours was in showing UNC’s progress towards becoming a truly global university.