Hiring a coach to replace a legend like Roy Williams is a make-or-break moment for an athletic director. On Thursday, after Williams made his surprise retirement official with an emotional final press conference, North Carolina AD Bubba Cunningham spoke to the media about where things stand with this big coaching search.
There are plenty of college basketball programs that are focused on keeping things "in the family." North Carolina may be towards the top of that list. Most have figured, and the odds show, that former Tar Heels are the favorites to take on this job.
Of course, there is no obvious option from that list. Hubert Davis, the early favorite, has been a Roy Williams assistant since 2012, but would be a first-time head coach taking over one of the biggest jobs in the sport. Wes Miller has been the highly successful head coach at UNC Greensboro, but the jump to Chapel Hill is monumental. Jerry Stackhouse has struggled to find on-court success in two seasons at Vanderbilt.
Cunningham says that Roy Williams has given his recommendations for the next head coach, and will certainly have his piece to say about the hire to replace him. However, it doesn't sound like he'll be anything close to the decision maker here, and Cunningham's preferences don't indicate that there is an obvious name among those being tossed out there.
Per Brendan Marks of The Athletic, the school will not retain a search committee for the hire. Cunningham says he already has some names in mind, and expects to hit the ground running, going "as quickly as I can."
It sounds like non-UNC people will be heavily considered. Perhaps the most interesting nugget is Cunningham's preference to hire an existing head coach, which would be a knock against Davis' candidacy.
North Carolina basketball will be able to get the ear of just about any coach in the sport. How it balances "best coach available" with "best fit for the North Carolina Tar Heels" will be fascinating. According to Cunningham, we may not have to wait too long to see who will fill Roy Williams' significant shoes.