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Heels keep coaching position in family

TUES. | 04-27-21 | SPORTS

     After 18 years, the Roy Williams era is officially over in Chapel Hill. His retirement as head men’s basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) made headlines on April 1, leading many to believe that he was only joking. Unfortunately, he wasn’t.

     Coach Williams began his Division I coaching career as an assistant coach under former UNC Head basketball Coach Dean Smith. He then went on to become the head coach at the University of Kansas where he coached for 15 years, leading the Jayhawks to nine conference championships. Williams returned to Chapel Hill as the head coach in 2003 when the Heels were coming off back-to-back lackluster seasons under 

hubert davis.jpeg

Image contributed by The News & Observer

former head coach Matt Doherty.

     Williams came to UNC when the men’s basketball program was at its worst, but it only took him two seasons to win a National Championship. He went on to win two more in his remaining 16 years, one in 2009 and another in 2017. These three titles in his tenure are the most in that 18 year span, making him the greatest college basketball coach of my lifetime, and making me even luckier to have had him as the head coach for my favorite school. Coach Williams’ impact cannot be overstated; he took UNC to the peak of college basketball by reinvigorating a culture of family and success.

     After Williams’ retirement press conference left many teary eyed, focus shifted to who the next head coach would be. Would it be Hubert Davis, the assistant coach waiting in the wings? Wes Miller, former UNC player and current head coach at University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC-G)? Or, would it be someone completely unrelated to Carolina like Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stephens or Gonzaga head coach Mark Few? Ultimately, UNC stayed in the family and hired Hubert Davis, who has been Williams’ assistant for nine years. Davis will become the first black head coach and is the 20th head coach in UNC basketball history.

     Yes, this is the safest possible hire, but it’s also the best possible hire. Davis played basketball at Carolina under Dean Smith and coached under Roy Williams, two of the greatest coaches in college basketball history. He knows UNC basketball better than anyone and more importantly, loves UNC basketball more than anyone.

     “I wanted this job,” Davis said. “I’ve always wanted to be a head coach, I just have always wanted to be a head coach only here.”

     Davis has been backed by current and former players alike. He received an outpouring of support on Twitter and his hire seems to be well-received by many members of the Carolina family including Roy Williams who left him a congratulatory message on Twitter.

     “You are the finest young man I have ever known in my love this program and have the same passion that I do, and you’ll be better than me,” Williams said.

     This is high praise coming from someone as successful and knowledgeable as Roy Williams. He knows college basketball better than almost anyone so for him to say these things about Davis, he must have lots of faith in him. 

     Davis hit the ground running and has already hired his staff of assistant coaches. He retained assistant coach Brad Frederick and promoted former Director of Player Personnel Sean May to an assistant coach position. Finally, Davis brought in former ECU head coach and Greenville native Jeff Lebo. Lebo’s son Creighton was a student at Rose and is currently a walk-on for the UNC basketball team. For the first time in UNC basketball history, all four coaches on staff are former players.

     With an experienced staff behind him, Davis is poised to do great things at UNC. As long as he uses his knowledge gained from his years of coaching behind Roy Williams, UNC is in great hands.

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