The University of North Carolina is hiring within the Tar Heel family to replace men’s basketball’s newly-retired head coach Roy Williams. UNC announced Monday the promotion of Hubert Davis from assistant coach to the program’s head honcho. While any coaching promotion is due for announcement, Davis’ case is different.
Davis becomes North Carolina’s first Black basketball coach in school history. This hiring is long overdue and was highly-backed by Roy Williams himself. Williams retired with over 900 wins, three national championship titles, and leaves behind a 33-year legacy that will be big shoes to fill. However, the now-retired coach wanted to leave behind a legacy that meant more than any stat ever could – naming a Black coach as his successor. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith even suggested it be North Carolina Central head coach LeVelle Moton.
While Moton would be a great option for North Carolina, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham wanted to stay within the Tar Heel lineage and that led straight to Davis. Davis was a Tar Heel himself, went on to play in the NBA and after a run as a college basketball analyst for ESPN, he returned to his alma mater as assistant head coach to Williams.
Davis was the only candidate in Cunningham’s pool of potential hires that didn’t have any college or NBA head coaching experience. He had a glimpse of what it meant to lead a team when he was the head coach of UNC’s junior varsity basketball team, the only JV team in the ACC. But Davis did have something Cunningham was looking for and that was the connection to UNC that the others didn’t.
Spending the last nine seasons as assistant coach for UNC, Davis is hardly to blame for the team’s last two disappointing seasons. However, competing as a Tar Heel himself under Dean Smith in his early years gives Davis the inside experience of UNC’s culture and what it take to compete in the ACC, one of the most elite conferences in college basketball.
UNC’s head coaching position is one of the highest-ranked positions among college athletics. With six national championships and 20 Final Four appearances, excellence is a tradition. Roy Williams left some massive shoes to fill, but Hubert Davis knows what it means to compete at the highest level in basketball and in life – and will continue and thrive doing just that.
Want more UNC Tar Heel content? Check out this podcast interview with #23, Ged Doughton.