Roy Williams was spinning yarns within the North Carolina males’s basketball locker room earlier than a follow in late October 2019, and I used to be right down to my remaining minutes with him earlier than I needed to go. So I fired the successor query: Does the coach who comes after it’s essential come from the Carolina household tree?
“I would really like for it to be a Carolina man,” Williams advised me. “I don’t know if I’ve any say in it. However I would like it to be somebody with the identical beliefs for what North Carolina has all the time stood for. For whoever it’s, I’d wish to see them proceed that a part of it.”
That would be the framework for some of the fascinating teaching searches in a very long time. With Williams saying his retirement Thursday at age 70, after profitable three nationwide championships and succeeding brilliantly in persevering with the legacy of his mentor, Dean Smith, does North Carolina preserve it within the household yet again?
If that’s the case, the listing of seemingly replacements is brief. In the event that they broaden the search, it will get actually attention-grabbing for athletic director Bubba Cunningham. (Cunningham has been within the males’s NCAA event bubble in Indianapolis as a part of the boys’s basketball committee.) That is the Cadillac job of Cadillac jobs.
For years, I’ve had a operating dialog with one business insider about what the job panorama appears like and the dialogue all the time begins with the identical premise from him: If North Carolina opens, it’s the lead domino no matter what occurs anyplace else. So let’s have a look at a two-tier Roy Williams successor listing.
FORDE: Roy Williams Is Far Extra Than Only a Basketball Coach
The primary tier, preserving it within the household:
Hubert Davis, present UNC assistant coach. Davis is probably the most linked of anybody, having performed underneath Smith and labored underneath Williams. That is the one faculty basketball program he’s ever identified. Davis has been on the Tar Heels bench for 9 seasons, having migrated there from an analyst job at ESPN, and earlier than that having performed 12 years within the NBA. If the present development of hiring an alum with some NBA caché is interesting to Cunningham and the remainder of UNC’s management, Davis is a compelling alternative. It additionally stands to purpose that Williams would champion a range rent as his substitute.
Steve Robinson, present UNC assistant coach. He’s Williams’s longest-tenured assistant, having been at his facet because the starting in Chapel Hill in 2003. Earlier than that, Robinson labored with Williams at Kansas twice, from 1988–95 and once more for the 2002–03 season earlier than they moved to Carolina. Between these stints, Robinson was the top coach at Florida State—and it didn’t go effectively. He had a profitable document in his first season and a shedding one in every of the following 4, which led to his firing in 2002. For that purpose, selling him up the ladder to switch Williams would appear like a troublesome promote. However he’s been integral to this system’s success as a member of three nationwide championship staffs, and he additionally would fulfill the range element.
Wes Miller, head coach at UNC Greensboro. Miller performed at North Carolina as a walk-on guard from 2004–07, when the Heels received their first nationwide title underneath Williams. He acquired the job at Greensboro in 2011 at the tender age of 28, and has turned this system right into a mid-major energy. The varsity caught with him via 5 shedding seasons to start out his tenure, and the reward has been 5 straight 20-win seasons and two NCAA event berths. His document the previous 5 seasons: 125–42. He’s resisted going after different jobs as his star has risen, fueling some hypothesis he’s had his eye on succeeding Williams. The disadvantage can be translating his success from the Southern Convention to the Atlantic Coast Convention, although Miller actually is aware of the Carolina program inside out.
A possible second tier, if Carolina expands its pool of candidates:
Jay Wright, Villanova. He handed Williams some of the painful defeats of his profession within the 2016 NCAA championship, however he’s clearly abundantly able to profitable at the best degree at North Carolina or anyplace. Wright is in an ideal state of affairs as is at Villanova, so it could be a shock if he uproots for one more faculty job. However after 20 seasons at ’Nova and at age 59, does he have the itch to strive one thing new that doesn’t contain shifting to the NBA?
Mark Few, Gonzaga. Much like Wright, though in all probability even much less more likely to take himself out of what he’s constructed. Few is a Pacific Northwest lifer who loves the life-style there, and he has all the things in place to win endlessly at Gonzaga. Laborious to see it taking place, however he’s shut with Williams (to whom Few misplaced the 2017 championship recreation) and if he ever needs to strive life as a high canine as a substitute of a perpetual underdog, right here’s the prospect.
Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls. For the final couple of years, the hypothesis was that that is the one job that would deliver Donovan again to the faculty recreation. However the timing is unhealthy, with Donovan only a 12 months into his tenure with the Bulls, and he’s not a job-hopping type of man. Additionally, there was outdated recruiting friction with Williams relationship again to early in Donovan’s time at Florida. That could be water effectively underneath the bridge by now, however possibly not.
Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics. Put Stevens in the identical class as Donovan. However he appears even much less more likely to wish to return to school, and the Hoosier State native already turned down overtures from Indiana in March. An actual lengthy shot however value a telephone name.
Scott Drew, Baylor. He’s 50–6 the previous two seasons and nonetheless within the combine for the 2021 nationwide championship at a faculty that traditionally has no enterprise profitable a nationwide championship. Drew had extra pure ties to Indiana than to this job—however it is a higher job. If he needs to educate at a basketball college as a substitute of within the coronary heart of soccer nation, this is able to be the chance. Drew angered a few of his teaching colleagues early in his profession on the recruiting path, to the purpose the place he may be a troublesome promote at a spot like Carolina.
Eric Musselman, Arkansas. He’s been a school head coach for six years and produced six 20-win seasons. He took Nevada to the Candy 16 in 2018 and Arkansas to the Elite Eight this March. His model of play is entertaining and he seemingly has mastered the very needed trendy artwork of melding transfers right into a program. He’s rapidly develop into beloved at Arkansas—however that may be a good job, and Carolina is a good job.
Rick Barnes, Tennessee. A local of Hickory, N.C., you’d should assume this one can be Barnes’s splendid swan-song job. He’s received greater than 700 faculty video games and revived Texas and Tennessee. However at age 66 and proudly owning an undistinguished NCAA event document, he’d be swimming upstream to get this one.
Chris Holtmann, Ohio State. He’s had eight straight 20-win seasons at three locations, Gardner-Webb (in Boiling Springs, N.C.), Butler and Ohio State. At age 49 he’s established however nonetheless has an extended profession runway forward of him. The late-season fade of his most up-to-date Buckeyes staff leaves a mark, most notably shedding as a No. 2 seed within the NCAA tourney to No. 15 Oral Roberts.
Porter Moser, Loyola Chicago. Moser has taken a mid-major program to the Last 4 and Candy 16 previously three NCAA tournaments, and his staff’s beatdown of No. 1 seed Illinois within the spherical of 32 this 12 months is among the most spectacular victories of the season. Moser is an adept team-builder and tradition creator, however his roots are straight Midwest and his model of play is just about the antithesis of Williams’s model. This is able to be a step into the unfamiliar for each events.