UNC announces Hubert Davis as next head basketball coach

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
UNC names Hubert Davis as head men's basketball coach
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UNC names Hubert Davis as head men's basketball coach following Roy Williams' retirement

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Just days after Roy Williams sent shockwaves throughout the sports world by announcing his retirement on April Fool's Day, UNC-Chapel Hill moved forward with his replacement as head men's basketball coach -- and the university didn't look far.

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Hubert Davis, one of Williams' top assistants and a former Tar Heels player, was announced as head basketball coach by the school on Monday.

"I'm proud, thankful, humbled and appreciative of being your new men's basketball coach for the University of North Carolina," Davis said in a recorded video.

Davis will be formally introduced during a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the Dean E. Smith Center.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees held a meeting to discuss and approve a contract Monday afternoon. The meeting was public for about three minutes before being called into closed session.

WATCH: UNC students and fans react to hiring of Hubert Davis

UNC fans react to Hubert Davis as new head coach. Josh Chapin reports from Chapel Hill.

The 50-year-old Davis, who played for coach Dean Smith from 1988-92, has spent the past nine seasons as an assistant coach and will be the first Black coach in the program's history.

"I love this university," Davis said in a statement. "I played here, I earned my degree here, I fell in love with my wife here, I got married here, I moved here after I retired from the NBA and I have raised my family here. I am proud to lead this team, and I can't wait for all that comes next."

Williams retired Thursday, saying he no longer felt he was "the right man for the job.

Davis was one of the favorites immediately after the job opened.

UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham was expected to choose to hire someone within the Carolina family, as the program has done for the last 70 years, meaning Davis and UNC Greensboro's Wes Miller were the frontrunners.

Cunningham did do background research on a few names not part of the Williams coaching tree, but Davis had the backing of Williams and many former players, sources told ESPN.

In a statement, Cunningham said Davis is the "best leader we can possibly have" for the program.

"He teaches student-athletes on and off the court," Cunningham said. "He inspires his fellow staff members. He is strongly committed to family. He has a tenacious, burning desire to be the best he can possibly be; we witnessed that when he was a player, a broadcaster and an assistant coach - and I have no doubt he will ensure that our student-athletes and program will be the best they can be, as well."

WATCH: Roy Williams: 'I no longer feel that I am the right man for the job'

Sport apparel shops along Franklin Street saw sales rise in the wake of Thursday's announcement about the long-time coach's retirement.

A native of Burke, Virginia, Davis was a first-round NBA draft pick by the New York Knicks. He spent 12 seasons in the NBA with six different organizations. Davis also spent time as a college basketball analyst for ESPN.

Davis graduated from UNC in 1992 with a degree in criminal justice.

Hubert Davis is the nephew of Carolina great Walter Davis and played for Dean Smith and has coached under Roy Williams for the past 9 years.

Davis wasn't a high profile recruit coming out of Lake Braddock Secondary school in Virginia.

"I think Carolina might have been his only offer, he might have had one other offer. He came in, worked his butt off, very professional about his craft and improved every year. He competed."

George Lynch would join the UNC program a year later. Those teams all grew extraordinarily close

"Everybody hung out and went to Franklin Street together. Everyone met up after practice. If we were on the road we did things together."

Lynch was first and foremost happy the job stayed in the family - but he says Davis is uniquely equipped for this particular spotlight

"I don't question at all if he has the moxie or toughness to be a coach in the ACC. You know he'll tinker a little bit. Coach Williams came in and he wanted us to speed the pace up a little bit and I'm sure Hubert, being a shooter, might want to space the floor."

A lengthy NBA career followed by several more years in the spotlight as an ESPN analyst have made Davis no stranger to the cameras. He's got a magnetic smile, a strong faith and is clearly a really nice guy. But Lynch says don't be fooled, Hubert is no pushover.

"Being able to have a successful NBA career, you've got to have a little nastiness in you. You can't be all love and smiles. Hopefully social media he's putting his style out there right now telling kids this is what we've got going on in Chapel Hill right now. There's a new sheriff in town."

Lynch said that as it pertains to Hubert's lack of head coaching experience, the most important thing is building an assistant staff of knowledgeable and enthusiastic supporters.

Hubert Davis and his wife, Leslie, have three children - Elijah, Bobbie Grace and Micah. Elijah will be playing collegiately at the University of Lynchburg next season.

Williams coached 18 years at UNC and previously was head coach at Kansas for 15.

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Williams led the Tar Heels to three national championships. He finishes his career, at age 70, as the third-winningest coach in Division 1 history.

Some fans in Chapel Hill expressed optimism at the new hire.

Mike Leake graduated from UNC in 1987, one year after Davis began playing in Chapel Hill.

WATCH: UNC alumni, students react to historic hiring of Hubert Davis

Another member of the 'Carolina Family' will take the reigns as head coach of the UNC men's basketball team.

"I don't know if it's a safe hire--it's probably just a really wise hire and of course you want someone from UNC's program to lead the program," said Leake. "I think he's paid his dues and honestly he knows basketball. He knows the next level which I think will help recruiting."

"You got to go with what you know. Roy did a good job, he brought in a great guy who's going to do it. I think Roy was part of the decision making I'm going to trust it. The program is built to succeed," said one UNC freshman. "A lot of guys think it's a horrible hire, a lot of guys think it's a great hire. You can look both ways but you're not going to know until next season."

WATCH: Roy Williams' full remarks on reasons for retiring

Raw video: Full remarks by UNC coach Roy Williams at his retirement news conference Thursday in Chapel Hill.

ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.