College of Charleston basketball coach Doug Wojcik surveyed the scene Wednesday morning and couldn’t help but smile and feel a sense of pride.
The Charlotte Bobcats were in the middle of a ball-handling drill and center Brendan Haywood and guard Matt Carroll were on the floor working on their skills.
Wojcik coached both players — Carroll at Norte Dame and Haywood at North Carolina — while he was an assistant.
The site of his two former pupils on John Kresse Court brought back a flood of memories for the new Cougars head coach.
“It’s amazing to see both of those guys out there after such a long time in the league,” Wojcik said. “To watch them grow as players on and off the court and to have had a small part in their development and success is a very rewarding feeling. And it’s been nice to catch up with them and see how they’re doing.”
The Bobcats will take on the New Orleans Hornets tonight in an NBA preseason game beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum. It’s the first exhibition game in Charleston since the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers played Charlotte before a sellout crowd in 2009.
Wojcik coached Carroll for two seasons at Notre Dame in 1999 and 2000. Carroll has been in the league 10 seasons, including eight with the Bobcats.
“Matt has lasted in the league because he can really, really shoot the basketball,” Wojcik said. “He does one thing extremely well. He’s got good size at 6-6, and if you can shoot, you can stick in this league.”
Haywood has had a steady career, playing his first nine seasons with the Washington Wizards. He spent the last two in Dallas, winning an NBA championship before the Mavericks waived him this past summer.
In the middle of the ball- handling drill, the 7-0, 265-pound Haywood spun off a teammate and scored easily, showing off his skills.
“I should have been a point guard,” Haywood joked to Wojcik.
Typical Haywood, Wojcik said.
“Brendan has had a very successful career,” Wojcik said. “He’s been around a long, long time and been productive. He’s a big, fun-loving guy. He’s got a great sense of humor and always had a great personality. All the big guys want to handle the ball and think they’re point guards.”
The Bobcats have plenty of familiar faces for South Carolina fans.
Starting guard Ramon Sessions played at Myrtle Beach High School, while assistant coach Brian Winters was a former All-American at South Carolina in the early 1970s under legendary coach Frank McGuire.
“When I was in school, I’d come to Charleston and have always loved the city,” said Winters, a two-time NBA All-Star with the Milwaukee Bucks. “(Former College of Charleston coach) Bobby Cremins and I have been friends a long time.”