North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham has perhaps the biggest decision of his career ahead of him. He is tasked with finding a replacement for legendary head coach Roy Williams, who abruptly retired this week.
UNC has no shortage of high-profile and influential basketball alumni that could be involved in the search in some capacity. Many would like to see a Tar Heels alum get the job. Williams says he’s made his own recommendation for the hire, which many took to mean assistant Hubert Davis, a former UNC star.
College hoops insider Andy Katz says that Davis is in fact the frontrunner right now, but it doesn’t sound like he’s a sure-thing by any means. Among those being consulted about the hire is TNT NBA and NCAA Tournament analyst Kenny “The Jet” Smith. Katz says that Smith “also could be a candidate.”
Davis joined North Carolina from the television world. After years at ESPN, he joined Williams’ Tar Heels staff in 2012. Smith doesn’t have any high-level coaching experience, and has been with Turner since 1998, after his retirement from the NBA the year before.
UNC has sought out insight from @TheJetOnTNT on replacing Roy Williams. Smith also could be a candidate. Frontrunner appears to be assistant Hubert Davis but AD Bubba Cunningham is doing due diligence with all @UNC_Basketball possible candidates as well as outside UNC’s family.
— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) April 3, 2021
Tar Heels are among the other popular candidates for the job, though there is no perfect fit. UNC Greensboro head coach Wes Miller has been very successful, but at a much lower level than what the Tar Heels face in the ACC. Jerry Stackhouse, another former UNC star and former NBA All-Star and assistant coach, has spent two years leading Vanderbilt, but has struggled to get the Commodores to a competitive level.
Stackhouse reportedly interviewed for the job today. Cunningham says that he prefers to hire a current head coach, and that keeping it in the Tar Heel family is important, but he’s exploring all options.
Roy Williams, who took over at his alma mater in 2003 after a stint at Kansas, spent 18 years coaching the Tar Heels, winning three national championships and reaching the Final Four five times.