The announcement that assistant coach and former North Carolina basketball standout Hubert Davis would succeed Roy Williams as the next head coach of the Tar Heels sparked discussion across the nation and in Chapel Hill.
Williams expressed his approval of the hiring and his optimism for the future of UNC basketball with Davis at the helm in a statement last Tuesday. Williams’ strong recommendation of Davis is one of several reasons UNC students are excited about the future of Tar Heel basketball.
“I really do think Hubert Davis is the man for the job because when you have someone with the legacy of Roy Williams supporting him, it’s huge,” junior Richard Adkins said.
The sense of loyalty and tradition that Davis’ hiring evokes also has students excited. Many students preferred UNC to make an internal hiring because it represented loyalty, hiring someone that’s been so closely connected to and involved with the program.
“I don’t think that 'keeping it in the family' is the one thing that’s going to make him a good coach, but I think it can elevate his coaching because of the sense of loyalty and belonging (from hiring internally),” sophomore Emma Schieck said.
Some students are also looking forward to changes Davis might make in play style. While Williams enjoyed substantial success playing two traditional post-players at a time, some fans said the style of play needs to be adapted for UNC to return to being a dominant force in the ACC and the NCAA.
Adkins, along with other Tar Heel fans, believe Davis will take the best of Williams’ scheme and implement it into a more modernized, spaced-out style of play.
“You can still run two bigs, but have one that’s more of a shooter,” junior Luc Stadler said. “There’s ways to keep the core of what we have that has worked so well for so long, like adding in another 3-point shooter ... what we saw with Luke Maye as a stretch-four.”
Along with changing the game on the court, students are excited about the prospects of Davis changing the game in recruiting. With former players turned coaches like Michigan’s Juwan Howard and Memphis’ Penny Hardaway garnering top recruits, UNC students are hopeful that Davis’ impressive collegiate and professional basketball resume will help him add similar talent to the Tar Heels’ roster.
“I think that’ll be huge, especially in the recruiting process because a lot of these players have dreams of going to the NBA,” Adkins said. “He has the experience of playing in the NBA and knows that next step to get those players to the NBA.”
Davis is already showing aggression in recruiting, especially in the transfer portal. Davis lured sophomore forward Justin McKoy — a former standout at nearby Panther Creek High School and three-star recruit, according to 247Sports — from Virginia to UNC.
He also spoke about plans to bring Walker Kessler — a former McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit, according to ESPN — back to UNC after Kessler announced his intentions to transfer last month.
“I think it’s kind of cool because you didn’t get that outward aggression in recruiting with Roy,” Stadler said. “I think if he can figure out transfer recruiting and recruiting through the high school ranks, he can make Carolina the cool place to go.”
While Tar Heel basketball hasn’t quite lived up to the UNC standard the past two seasons, students are optimistic that Davis’ understanding of and connection to the Tar Heel tradition and culture — coupled with a potential recruiting edge and an openness to a more modernized style of play — will help UNC basketball return to national prominence in the near future.
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