The University of North Carolina is planning to hire Hubert Davis as its next men’s basketball coach, two sources with knowledge of the decision told The News & Observer.
The UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees is meeting to approve his contract Monday afternoon.
Davis, 50, who played for legendary coach Dean Smith from 1988-92, has spent the past nine seasons as an assistant coach under outgoing head coach Roy Williams. He will be the first African-American head coach in the history of the program.
Prior to returning to UNC, Davis worked for ESPN as a college basketball analyst. But when Williams had a position to fill, he handpicked Davis to join his staff despite never having coached in college.
Davis played in the NBA 12 seasons and got his first taste of coaching in 2004 as a Dallas Mavericks player development coach.
Davis does not have any prior head coaching experience on the Division I level. However, he was essentially groomed in a similar way that Williams once learned as an assistant under Smith. Williams tapped Davis to coach UNC’s junior varsity team as a way to get used to making decisions as a head coach in real time.
UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham interviewed at least eight candidates over the weekend, including two who did not play at Carolina: Current assistant coach Steve Robinson worked on Williams’ staff at Kansas and UNC for a combined 26 years; He also spent seven years as a head coach at Tulsa and Florida State. Stanford coach Jerod Haase, who played for Williams at KU, served as an assistant coach at UNC from 2003-09.
To ensure Davis has the support he needs as a new coach, there will be an emphasis on constructing his new staff. Cunningham has asked some of the former players with coaching experience about their interest in serving a supporting role. Others like George Lynch, Davis’ former teammate and a member of the 1993 national championship team, have reached out expressing their interest. Lynch was the head coach at Division II Clark-Atlanta University and also had served two stints on the staff at SMU during the tenures of former Tar Heels’ Matt Doherty and later Larry Brown.
Williams retired after 18 seasons at Carolina and 33 seasons total as a head coach. Williams leaves behind, arguably, as big a shadow as Smith did. He led the Tar Heels to national titles in 2005, 2009 and 2017 before revealing at his retirement press conference that he no longer felt he was “the right man for the job.”
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