Honoring Roy Williams’ legacy and what’s next for Hubert Davis and the UNC basketball team

North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball coach Roy Williams announced his retirement on Thursday, April 1 after 33 seasons as a Division I head coach. In his last season at UNC, the team was 18-11 overall and 10-6 in the ACC.

Williams’ legacy in Chapel Hill began when he was a college student playing on the UNC freshman team and studying the game under coach Dean Smith, working at his summer camps and keeping team statistics. His college coaching career also began at North Carolina as an assistant coach for Smith in 1978. In 1988, Williams then became the head coach at Kansas, taking them to 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments, four Final Four appearances, two national championship game appearances, and winning nine conference titles.

In 2003, Williams then left Kansas to return to his alma mater North Carolina, replacing Matt Doherty as head coach of the Tar Heels. Since returning to North Carolina, Williams won three national championships, finished first in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season standings nine times, won three ACC tournament championships, one AP National Coach of the Year award, and two ACC Coach of the Year awards.

He is third all-time for most wins at Kansas behind Phog Allen and Bill Self, and first all-time for most wins at North Carolina ahead of his legendary mentor Dean Smith. On January 25, 2020, with a 94–71 win over Miami, Williams reached 880 wins surpassing Smith’s 879-win total.

With a total of 903 wins, Williams took his teams to nine Final Fours in his careers at Kansas and North Carolina. Williams is the fifth NCAA Men’s Division I head coach to reach 900 wins, and the fastest head coach to reach that total, in the fewest number of games. He is the only coach in NCAA history to have led two different programs to at least four Final Fours each and the only basketball coach in NCAA history to have 400 or more victories at two NCAA Division I schools. He is also 14th all-time in the NCAA for winning percentage among men’s college basketball coaches. Williams is one of six NCAA Men’s Division I college basketball coaches to have won at least three national championships. He leaves UNC with a 485-163 record in 18 seasons.

North Carolina has promoted longtime assistant Hubert Davis to replace Roy Williams as UNC’s new head coach. A Virginia native, Davis played for Dean Smith at North Carolina from 1988 to 1992 before being a first-round NBA draft pick by the New York Knicks. He spent 12 seasons in the NBA with six organizations. Davis also spent time as a college basketball analyst for ESPN.

In a statement released by UNC, Davis stated, “I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to lead this program. I would not be here without Coach Dean Smith, Coach Bill Guthridge and Coach Roy Williams; they taught me so much — and I’m eager to walk their path in my shoes and with my personality. I also would not be here without Chancellor Guskiewicz and Bubba Cunningham. I appreciate their faith in me, and I look forward to working closely with them.”

Davis was one of the favorites as soon as the position opened. He will become the first Black head coach in UNC men’s basketball history.