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Saturday April 17th

With storied history, UNC men's basketball sticks in the family with Hubert Davis hire

UNC men's basketball new head coach Hubert Davis greets people ahead of his appointment press conference at the Smith Center on April 6, 2021.
Buy Photos UNC men's basketball new head coach Hubert Davis greets people ahead of his appointment press conference at the Smith Center on April 6, 2021.

Roy Williams said he wasn’t the "right man" for the job anymore after stepping down as head coach for the North Carolina men's basketball team on April 1. 

Four days later, director of athletics Bubba Cunningham found who he said was the "right coach" to helm the blue-blooded program. And who better than the man who Williams asked to come onto his staff nine years ago: Hubert Davis?

In a press conference on Tuesday in the Dean E. Smith Center, Davis was announced as the 20th coach in the storied history of the program — and the first Black man to walk the Smith Center's Carolina Blue sidelines as head coach. 

Williams won 903 games as a head coach, both at Kansas and UNC, and won three national championships during his 18 years leading the Tar Heels. Naturally, the person following in those footsteps would feel an intense weight on their shoulders — not Davis, though.

“Coach Williams is the greatest. I’m Hubert,” he said. “As I said before, the only thing I need to do is to do this job with my personality and in my shoes.”

Davis brings with him a diverse resume. He played in the NBA for 12 years, taking to the hardwood under coaches like Pat Riley, Don Nelson and fellow UNC alumnus Larry Brown, while competing against legendary players like Patrick Ewing, Dirk Nowitzki and UNC basketball's most famous alumnus, Michael Jordan. 

After playing in the NBA, Davis worked on ESPN as an analyst for seven years, working on programs like College GameDay, where he got a front-row seat to watch the top teams in the college game.

“He’s achieved at every level, taken every challenge and beaten the odds and has established himself as a winner every step of the way,” Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said. “I’m proud to have Coach Davis as the face of Carolina Basketball for years to come.”

Davis’ hire wasn’t a given, though. 

“I had eight members of my staff that also interviewed candidates along the way and many of the Carolina folks also looked around the country to help me identify additional candidates," Cunningham said. "Other people that were also interested in the job, and allowed us to have a broad view of who would be the right person to lead us right now. And again, we came back to Coach Hubert Davis.”

For Davis, Chapel Hill has always been his home. His uncle, Walter Davis, was an All-American at UNC under Dean Smith from 1973 to 1977, and Davis himself played under Smith at UNC from 1988-1992.

“This is where I played basketball, this is where I got better, this is where I went to school and graduated with a criminal justice degree, this is where I met the best friends of my life here, this is where I became a Christian, this is where I fell in love with my wife, this is where I bought my first house, this is where my wife and I got married,” Davis said.

Davis said Williams was a calming presence when he walked into the basketball offices for the first time as an assistant for North Carolina in 2012. 

“I just felt settled because everything was going to be okay because Coach Williams was there,” Davis said. “He’s the greatest coach that I’ve ever been around.”

As a part of being head coach, Davis could get Williams' old office. But he doesn’t want it.

“I told him (Williams), 'Leave all the pictures up, this is your office,' and I told him this for two reasons,” Davis said. “This is his office, this is his home, and I want Coach Williams, I want Mrs. Williams, I want all of his children and I want his grandchildren, when they come to games, I want them to go into his office. I want them to go home.”

The second reason is a so-called selfish one for Davis:

“That’ll make me think he’s still here.”

@noahmnroe

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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