Tar Heels Overseas Update: Where are they now?

It’s been a busy off-season for our Tar Heels and many have signed for new teams or extended their contracts overseas. We will be looking at the new destinations during the 2021/22 season for James Michael McAdoo, Isaiah Hicks, Brice Johnson, Nate Britt, Luke Maye, Deon Thompson, Ty Lawson, Kenny Williams, JP Tokoto, Jawad Williams, Justin Pierce and Justin Knox.

This is Part One of the Tar Heels Overseas Update: Where are they now?

Ceiling is the Roof is the number one website for all the latest breaking news on Tar Heels playing overseas, follow @britishtarheel on Twitter and @britishtarheel on Instagram for regular updates and highlights.

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James Michael McAdoo – Sun Rockers Shibuya (Japan)

James Michael McAdoo, 2x NBA Champion, is now rocking for the Sun Rockers in the top-tier of Japanese basketball. McAdoo has played in Italy, Turkey, Serbia before heading to Japan last year. He signed an extension with the Sun Rockers in May and will be hoping for another great season in Tokyo.

McAdoo helped the Sun Rockers Shibuya reach the playoffs last season and averaged over 10 PPG and 6 RPG. McAdoo is teammates with former Duke player, Ryan Kelly, hopefully, we’ll hear JMM winding up Kelly when the ACC gets going!

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGSPG
BESIKTAS (TURKEY)2019/2020.78.556.641.15
PARTIZAN BELGRADE (SERBIA)2019/2011.68.03.00.56
HITACHI SUN ROCKERS (JAPAN)2020/2121.010.926.241.38
Statistics are up to date as of May 27th (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Isaiah Hicks – Seoul Samsung Thunders (South Korea)

Another player that is re-signing with the same team from last season is Isaiah Hicks. Hicks was a monster in the 2020/21 season for Seoul Samsung Thunders and he signed an extension in June.

Hicks was the star player for the Korean Basketball League (KBL) team this past season, leading his team in PPG, RPG and BPG. You may have seen Isaiah Hicks play for the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Summer League, although his contract for Seoul was already signed, sealed and delivered before the Summer League tipped off.

Hicks played 54 games for Seoul last season and started 51 of them. Seoul struggled in the league this year with a record of 24-30, but Hicks’ numbers were impressive. Hicks averaged 17.28 PPG for Seoul and was in the Top 10 Scorers of the KBL. Hicks also led the league in BPG with 1.5.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGBPG
AVTODAR SARATOV (RUSSIA)2019/2028.312.866.712.0
SEOUL SAMSUNG THUNDERS
(SOUTH KOREA)
2020/2124.817.287.351.46
Statistics are up to date as of June 15th (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Brice Johnson – Toyama Grouses (Japan)

Brice Johnson was one of the most dominant big-men to play in Chapel Hill and lots of fans will remember his time from 2012-2016. Now, Johnson is embarking on a new adventure in Toyama, Japan.

In 2019, after playing in the NBA and NBA G-League, Brice took his talents overseas. Johnson has played for teams in Puerto Rico, Italy, France and last season in Ukraine.

Last season, Johnson played for BC Budivelynk, the most successful team in Ukraine history, he led his team in RPG, BPG, SPG and averaged 13 PPG in 24 minutes.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGBPG
ORLANDINA (ITALY)2019/2032.417.3511.180.82
CHORALE ROANNE (FRANCE)2019/2025.413.295.430.43
BUDIVELYNK (UKRAINE)2020/2124.313.08.371.16
Statistics are up to date as of May 27th (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Nate Britt – Yoast United (Netherlands)

Nate Britt has signed for Yoast United in the newly founded BNXT League, the new division will include the top-tiers of Dutch and Belgian basketball coming together.

Britt just finished his fourth season as a professional basketball player and played some of his best basketball yet. Britt was playing in the second-tier of German Basketball and his team the Wiha Panthers, reached the highest in the team’s history after making the playoffs.

Sadly, Britt’s season was cut short due to members of his team testing positive for Covid-19 and had to forfeit the playoffs. Britt averaged 13.5 PPG and 5.39 APG in 30 MPG. He also led the team in assists and steals.

Nate spoke to Ceiling is the Roof about his new move to the Netherlands:

“The club is a new club and very hungry for success. We are looking to help each other take steps forward. I also believe the coach and I get along very well, he has a lot of experience ad will have us playing basketball very suitable to my game.”

Nate Britt spoke to Ceiling is the Roof on Yoast United and Head Coach, Paul Vervaeck

Yoast United are a new club and was founded in May 2020, so the team is on a new adventure playing in a top division and wanted an experienced point guard to lead their team.

“The GM talks about the club being a family and they are very particular about who they bring to keep that environment among staff and players a family one. That’s very rare to find in this profession.”

Nate Britt spoke to Ceiling is the Roof on why he chose Yoast United

It seems that Nate understands the impact of family within basketball from his time at Carolina and is happy to see the same qualities in his new team, Yoast United.

Nate joined the Ceiling is the Roof Podcast this off-season to talk more about his time at UNC and playing overseas.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGRPGSPG
GLASGOW ROCKS
(UNITED KINGDOM)
2017/1828.511.723.563.681.8
OMONIA NICOSIA (CYPRUS)2019/2033.714.523.624.141.76
WIHA PANTHERS (GERMANY)2020/2130.013.585.393.652.16
Statistics are up to date as of May 5th (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Luke Maye – BAXI Manresa (Spain)

Luke Maye is taking a short flight from last season’s destination of Italy to Spain. Maye has signed for BAXI Manresa in the Liga ACB, this is the top-tier of Spanish basketball, and they also play in the Basketball Champions League.

Last season, Luke Maye suited up for Dolomiti Energia Trento in Italy and made appearances in the EuroCup during his first season overseas. He averaged 11.6 PPG in 25 MPG and helped Trento reach the final playoff spot in the Lega Basket Serie A. Trento did beat AX Armani Exchange Milan once in the regular season, but in the playoffs, Milan was too much for Maye’s side.

Maye moving over to the Spanish league this season is a step up, with the Liga ACB being considered one of the top leagues in the world, outside the NBA. BAXI Manresa had a record of 17-19 last season and Maye will be hoping to help his new team reach the playoffs this season.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGAPG
TRENTO (ITALY)2020/2125.211.615.981.24
Statistics are up to date as of May 27th (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Deon Thompson – Leones de Ponce (Puerto Rico)

From one player who is heading to Spain, to another player who has just left, Deon Thompson has left Spain after two seasons for Unicaja Malaga and headed to Puerto Rico to play for Leones de Ponce.

Thompson spoke to Ceiling is the Roof about his move to Puerto Rico:

“I’m excited! This game of basketball really has blessed me to be able to see the world. The team is putting together a good roster, so they want to make a run at the championship, I’m always on board for that!”

Deon Thompson speaking to Ceiling is the Roof on his move to Leones de Ponce.

Deon Thompson is the only Tar Heel currently playing, as the league in Puerto Rico starts during the summer and finishes in the fall, so expect to see Thompson somewhere else near the end of the year.

This season, Deon Thompson is playing some of his best basketball as of late. Thompson is currently the leader of PPG and RPG for Leones de Ponce with 17.3 PPG and 6.78 RPG. Leones de Ponce is currently in a playoff position and will be hoping to keep pushing up the table as the season continues.

Deon Thompson was another guest on the Ceiling is the Roof Podcast during Season One and he talks about playing at the highest level of overseas basketball throughout his career. Thompson said he rarely does podcasts and this was his longest interview yet:

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGSPG
UNICAJA MALAGA (SPAIN)2019/2020.89.113.230.89
UNICAJA MALAGA (SPAIN)2020/2119.98.573.740.68
LEONES DE PONCE (PUERTO RICO)2021/2228.017.936.780.56
Statistics are up to date as of September 1st (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Ty Lawson – Kolossos Rodou (Greece)

Ty Lawson… in some people’s eyes the greatest Point Guard to play for the University of North Carolina, and honestly, they could be right.

Lawson is back on the court in the 2021/22 season after not playing last season and will be playing for Kolossos Rodou in Greece at the top-tier of Greek basketball.

Ty Lawson has not played since leaving Fujian Sturgeon in China. Lawson was set to sign for Kolossos Rodou in the Greek Basket League (GBL) last season, but Lawson was not allowed to leave China for five months, preventing the move.

Lawson has not played in Europe since the 2011 NBA Lockout, after signing for BC Zalgiris in Lithuania. During that time, Lawson played seven games in the Euroleague. Lawson has played 587 NBA games from 2009 to 2017 and then headed to China where he put up some very impressive numbers. It’s going to be exciting to have a player of his calibre in Europe.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGSPG
SHANDONG (CHINA)2017/1836.125.526.542.17
SHANDONG (CHINA)2018/1935.026.468.711.79
FUJIAN (CHINA)2019/2036.527.38.762.7
Statistics are up to date as of September 1st (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Kenny Williams – Kolossos Rodou (Greece)

Ty Lawson will not be alone in Rhodes, he will be joined by fellow Tar Heel, Kenny Williams. That’s two UNC National Champions playing for Kolossos Rodou in the 2021/22 season.

Kenny Williams signed for Kolossos Rodou in August after two seasons in the NBA G-League for Austin Spurs and he did experience overseas basketball last season after signing for Bnei Herzliya in the top-tier of Israeli basketball, although his time was cut short due to an injury.

Jean-Pierre Tokoto – Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

Jean-Pierre Tokoto was the high-flying dunking machine at the University of North Carolina and has since been stunning crowds with his athleticism and ability all over the world.

JP Tokoto will be playing again for Hapoel Tel Aviv next season. Tokoto has played the 2020/21 season in Tel Aviv and has averaged 13.6 PPG for the Reds and has become a big focus point for them offensively in the Israel Basketball Premier League.

Seth Trimble, JP Tokoto’s younger brother, committed to the University of North Carolina this summer.

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGAPGRPGSPG
HAPOEL EILAT (ISRAEL)2018/1928.113.423.187.611.45
IRONI NES ZIONA (ISRAEL)2019/2031.414.214.146.292.21
HAPOEL TEL AVIV (ISRAEL)2020/2128.113.644.575.291.5
Statistics are up to date as of May 28th (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Jawad Williams – Yamagata Wyverns (Japan)

Jawad Williams is heading into his 17th season of professional basketball after signing for Yamagata Wyverns in the Japanese B-League 2. Yamagata is based in northern Japan and play in the second-tier of Japanese basketball.

Williams has played in Japan for the past four seasons after playing for Alvark Tokyo, Koshigaya Alphas, Utsunomiya Brex and Levanga Hokkaido. Williams is a globetrotter and the 2005 National Champion has played for 16 teams in 9 countries in his professional basketball career.

This summer, Jawad was invited by the Cleveland Cavaliers to be a Guest Coach in their preparations for NBA Summer League and has been weighing the decisions whether to head into coaching now or continue to play. Jawad has said that he wants to play until he’s 40 and now at 38, nothing is slowing him down!

Jawad Williams was a guest on the Ceiling is the Roof Podcast in June and talked about his professional career, his time at UNC, what life is like overseas and more. You can watch the full episode below:

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGAPG
TOYOTA ALVARK (JAPAN)2017/1819.78.83.391.0
TOYOTA ALVARK (JAPAN)2018/1923.610.424.311.27
LINK TOCHIGI BREX (JAPAN)2019/2014.17.162.890.58
LEVANGA HOKKAIDO (JAPAN)2020/2125.510.474.31.51
Statistics are up to date as of May 27th (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Justin Pierce – VfL Kircheim Knights (Germany)

Justin Pierce has signed for VfL Kircheim Knights of the German Pro A League, the second-tier of German basketball. Pierce is now entering his second season overseas after playing the 2020/21 season for Kobrat in Finland.

Pierce had a memorable first season as a professional basketball player playing his first season overseas in the top-tier of Finnish Basketball and saw his team Kobrat reach the postseason, for only the second time in the club’s history.

Justin Pierce spoke to Ceiling is the Roof about signing for his new team:

“I was hoping to make the jump to the BBL (top league of Germany) this year, but from Finland it is not super easy. I talked with teams and they all said they want to see me have a healthy season and I am still very young and inexperienced in their eyes.”

Justin Pierce speaking to Ceiling is the Roof about his new move

“I wanted to find a stable club where I could continue to develop with a coach who I felt like could help me progress to the next level. Kircheim is making a commitment to reach the BBL in 2022-23 season and are one of the top teams in Pro A. That’s my goal as well!”

Justin Pierce speaking to Ceiling is the Roof about his goals

Justin Pierce joined the Ceiling is the Roof Podcast in April to talk about his first season overseas, his experience at UNC and more. You can watch the full episode below:

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGAPG
KOBRAT (FINLAND)2020/2128.016.565.193.5
Statistics are up to date as of April 10th (source: basketball.realgm.com)

Justin Knox – San-en NeoPhoenix (Japan)

Justin Knox is the fourth Tar Heel to have signed to play in Japan for the 2021/22 season, after signing for San-en NeoPhoenix of the B-League 1, the top-tier of Japanese basketball. Knox was most recently playing in South Korea for Wonju Dongbu Promy.

Knox spoke to Ceiling is the Roof about his move to Japan:

“I’m excited about it. Looking forward to see what the type of skill level is played in Japan versus South Korea. I want to get this team to the playoffs and a championship!”

Justin Knox speaking to Ceiling is the Roof on his move to San-en NeoPhoenix.

Knox just finished his season in South Korea playing for Wonju Dongbu Promy, who finished with a 24-30 record and one position outside the playoffs. The previous season Wonju Dongbu Promy were Co-Regular Season Champions of the KBL (season finished early due to Covid-19).

TEAMSEASONMPGPPGRPGBPG
PALLACANESTRO TRIESTE (ITALY)2018/1917.110.424.290.68
TRENTO (ITALY)2019/2022.110.575.190.59
WONJU DONGBU PROMY (SOUTH KOREA)2020/2121.613.946.780.69
Statistics are up to date as of April 20th (source: basketball.realgm.com)

There are still more Tar Heels who are yet to sign their next contract overseas and I have been told by multiple players that they will be announced soon.

Follow @britishtarheel on Twitter for all the latest news on the Tar Heels playing overseas.

Players who are yet to announce their next club and I predict to go overseas for the 2021/22 season:

NAMELAST PLAYED FORCOUNTRY
MARCUS PAIGEKK PARTIZANSERBIA
TYLER HANSBROUGHSICHUAN BLUE WHALESCHINA
KENNEDY MEEKSCHANGWON LG SAKERSSOUTH KOREA
MARCUS GINYARDCSP LIMOGESFRANCE
BADEN JAXENBC ODESSAUKRAINE
JOEL JAMESDUZCE BELEDIYETURKEY
JUSTIN WATTSDONAR GRONINGENNETHERLANDS
CHRISTIAN KEELINGGLASGOW ROCKSUNITED KINGDOM
DESMOND HUBERTKAGOSHIMA REBNISEJAPAN
WILL GRAVESAPOEL BCCYPRUS

Players who have signed their contracts to play overseas for the 2021/22 season:

NAMETEAMCOUNTRY
JAMES MCADOOSUN ROCKERS SHIBUYAJAPAN
ISAIAH HICKSSEOUL SAMSUNG THUNDERSSOUTH KOREA
BRICE JOHNSONTOYAMA GROUSESJAPAN
NATE BRITTYOAST UNITEDNETHERLANDS
LUKE MAYEBAXI MANRESASPAIN
DEON THOMPSONLEONES DE PONCEPUERTO RICO
TY LAWSONKOLOSSOS RODOUGREECE
KENNY WILLIAMSKOLOSSOS RODOUGREECE
JP TOKOTOHAPOEL TEL AVIVISRAEL
JAWAD WILLIAMSYAMAGATA WYVERNSJAPAN
JUSTIN PIERCEVFL KIRCHEIM KNIGHTSGERMANY
JUSTIN KNOXNEO PHOENIXJAPAN

I hope you enjoyed this update on the Tar Heels playing overseas, make sure you follow @britishtarheel on Twitter and @britishtarheel on Instagram for all the latest news.

Have you listened to the Ceiling is the Roof Podcast yet? It’s a new interview-style podcast with former UNC basketball players as guests every episode. It launched in April 2021 and during the Season One, the guests have included Joel Berry IIKennedy MeeksMarcus GinyardJawad WilliamsDeon ThompsonBobby FrasorNate BrittJustin PierceLeslie McDonald and Brandon Robinson. Remember to SUBSCRIBE!

The Podcast is also available on many different platforms; YouTubeSpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsPocket CastsRadioPublicCastbox and Anchor FM.

Subscribe for updates on the Current Tar Heels and Pro Tar Heels with a close eye on the Tar Heels Overseas.

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