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The Daily Tar Heel

Dean Smith’s coaching legacy lives on

In his 36 seasons as a coach for the men’s basketball team, Smith influenced many of his players to start coaching

Coach Dean Smith’s 879 wins, two national championships, 13 ACC tournament championships and 17 ACC regular-season championships will always serve as proof of his impact on the North Carolina men’s basketball program.

But unlike the banners hanging in the Smith Center rafters, the influence Smith had on his players throughout his coaching career — while not visible — might have been just as great.

Several of Smith’s former players have gone on to coaching careers at both the collegiate and professional levels. 

And many of these players-turned-coaches then inspired players of their own to pursue coaching careers, making Smith’s impact touch many teams in the world of basketball.

The below players who have continued on to their own coaching careers are not a complete list but a short summary of Smith’s most significant coaching descendants.


Doug Moe

Moe played for UNC from 1958-61. He coached in the NBA for 15 seasons and was NBA Coach of the Year in 1988.  

Larry Brown

Brown is the only head coach to ever win an NCAA and NBA championship. He is in his 40th season as a head coach. 

Billy Cunningham

Cunningham coached in the NBA for eight years and is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Bill Guthridge

Guthridge joined Smith’s staff in 1967 as an assistant. He became UNC’s head coach when Smith retired in 1997. 

Eddie Fogler

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Fogler became an assistant under Smith in 1971. He later coached at Wichita State, Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

Roy Williams

Williams led UNC to national titles in 2005 and 2009. He is in his 12th season as the head coach at UNC and 27th overall.


George Karl  

Karl’s 1,131 regular-season wins as an NBA head coach rank him as sixth all time. He was NBA Coach of the Year in 2013. 

Tony Shaver

Shaver played for Smith from 1972-75. He is currently the head coach at William & Mary, where he has been since 2003. 

Randy Wiel

Wiel served as an assistant coach under Smith from 1985-93. He coached at UNC-Asheville and Middle Tennessee State.  


Buzz Peterson

In 16 years as a head coach, Peterson coached Appalachian State, Tulsa, Tennessee, Coastal Carolina and UNC-W. 

Matt Doherty

Doherty coached at UNC from 2000-03. He also coached at Notre Dame, Florida Atlantic and Southern Methodist.

Jeff Lebo

Lebo played under Smith from 1986-89. He is currently the head coach at East Carolina, where he’s been since 2010.

Phil Ford

Ford served as an assistant coach at UNC from 1988-2000. He was also an assistant coach in the NBA.


Scott Cherry


Cherry played at UNC from 1989-93. He is currently the head coach at High Point, where he’s been since 2009.

King Rice 

Rice played point guard for Smith from 1988-91. He is currently the head coach at Monmouth, where he’s been since 2011.

Hubert Davis 

After a 12-year career in the NBA as well as a stint with ESPN, Davis became an assistant coach at UNC in 2012.

Rasheed Wallace