Was it ever going to be anyone else?
Hubert Davis might not be the prodigal son returning home that Roy Williams was 18 years ago, but he's as close as anyone alive, bar Michael Jordan, could be. For a program that loves to keep things in the family, there was no other choice — after all, in his parting message, Williams named him "the finest young man I have ever known in my life."
A former player under Dean Smith and 12-year NBA veteran before spending nine years on Williams' coaching staff, UNC announced on Monday that Davis would be the next head coach of the North Carolina men's basketball team, following Williams' retirement on April 1. He's the first Black head coach in program history.
In his 33-year Hall of Fame career — the last 18 of which came at UNC — Williams won 903 games, the third-most in Division I men's basketball history. He also won three national championships in 2005, 2009 and 2017, all of which came at UNC.
"I've learned more in the last four days about the strength and bond and relationships and loyalty and commitment of the Carolina family ... than I have in the last 10 years," director of athletics Bubba Cunningham said at Davis' introductory press conference on Tuesday.
"I've talked to more than 20 basketball players, former players, coaches, and to a person they are selfless. Their value base, they have a level of integrity, and a level of selflessness that I've never seen. I talked to many that were interested in being the head coach. And at the end of the conversation each and every one of them said 'I'd love to be the head coach, but if it's not me, I know you'll do the right thing, and all I want is for Carolina to get the right coach.' And we have found the right coach."
With no prior head coaching experience, Davis follows in a long tradition of the Tar Heels' leader coming from the previous head coach's bench, either in a suit or in shorts. This dates back to 1961, when Smith was promoted from assistant coach off of Frank McGuire's staff.
"I wanted this job. I've always wanted to be a head coach," Davis said at his press conference. "I've always wanted to be a head coach, only here. I've always wanted to walk the same road, the same path as Coach Smith and Coach (Bill) Guthridge and Coach Williams. And I'm so excited and humbled and thankful and appreciative and excited to be able to do with my own personality and in my own shoes. And I'm just very thankful for everyone and I'm ready to go."
Once a Tar Heel…