By R.L. Bynum
Hubert Davis not only takes a place in Carolina sports history alongside Charlie Scott but accepts the unenviable task of replacing Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams.
His hiring became official Monday afternoon and a press conference will be held Tuesday at 2 p.m. and will be streamed on goheels.com.
Scott became UNC’s first Black scholarship athlete in 1967 and Davis will be the first Black head coach for either Carolina men’s basketball or football.
He’s not the first Black head coach at UNC. That distinction goes to Hubert West, who was the Tar Heels’ track and field coach in the early 1980s. Harlis Meaders also was head track coach from 2012 to 2019. Everett Withers was the interim head football coach in 2011.
At 50, Davis, who has been the junior varsity coach, becomes the fourth UNC head coach without head coaching experience, including Dean Smith, who became head coach at age 30 in 1961, Ben Carnevale (1944) and Bill Guthridge (1998).
The previous three all reached the Final Four: Carnevale in 1946, Smith (11 times) and Guthridge (1998 and 2000).
“I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to lead this program, ” Davis said. “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 [Kevin] Guskiewicz and Bubba Cunningham. I appreciate their faith in me and I look forward to working closely with them.
“I love this university. 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.”
The best in-family hires were always going to be UNCG coach Wes Miller and Davis and both had plenty of positives to their candidacies.
Davis has a rare blend of experience. He played for Smith, then for 14 seasons in the NBA and coached on Williams’ staff for nine seasons. No other candidates were so closely associated with UNC’s two former Hall of Fame men’s basketball coaches.
Oh, and his uncle is Walter Davis, one of the great UNC players of the1970s who also had a long NBA career.
“Hubert Davis is the best leader we can possibly have for our men’s basketball program,” said UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham. “He teaches student-athletes on and off the court. 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 than our student-athletes and program will be the best they can be, as well.”
He also is one of UNC’s best recruiters and is popular with the players. His long NBA career also likely makes him relatable to today’s high-level recruits who have an eye on the NBA.
Hopefully, Steve Robinson, an assistant with UNC since 2003 who was also on the Kansas staff for seven years, will stay on to provide a veteran presence on the staff.