Legendary basketball coach Roy Williams is retiring after 33 years of head coaching in the NCAA.
Through 15 seasons with the Kansas Jayhawks (1988-2003) and 18 seasons with the North Carolina Tar Heels (2003-21), Williams amassed a 903-264 overall record — notching him at No. 11 in all-time college basketball wins. During his time in Chapel Hill, the all-time great coach led the Heels to three NCAA Tournament championships.
According to GoHeels.com, Williams will officially announce his retirement in a press conference on Roy Williams Court at the Dean E. Smith Center today at 4 p.m. E.T.
After 33 years as a Hall of Fame head coach, our beloved Tar Heel Roy Williams is announcing his retirement.
Thank you for all you have done and meant to everyone who plays and loves our game.
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) April 1, 2021
While the news is still fresh for everyone, one question jumps out immediately: Who will be the next UNC head coach?
Here are a few potential options:
The first and most obvious choice for the newly-opened head coaching job is the heir apparent, longtime assistant coach Hubert Davis. Leaving a broadcasting job at ESPN to join Roy’s staff in 2012, Davis has been prepped to take over this job for nearly a decade.
Spending four years as a player with North Carolina (1988-92), the UNC alum and former NBA veteran has deep ties with the program. While Davis has no head coaching experience, neither did Williams — jumping from his assistant coaching role under Dean Smith to the head job at Kansas in 1988.
Source in the industry on North Carolina’s opening: "Let’s be honest, it’s Wes (Miller) or Hubert (Davis) if they decide to stay in the family."
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) April 1, 2021
The next option is another former UNC player turned coach. Walking on to Roy Williams’ squad in 2004, Wes Miller quickly transitioned into a key role-player position for the Tar Heels. After winning a national championship in his first year with the team, the shooting guard was given a full scholarship the following year.
In 2011, Miller took the head coaching job at his hometown school UNC Greensboro. Currently 38 years old, the former Tar Heel became the youngest head coach in Division 1 college basketball when he took the job at 27. Through 10 seasons with the Spartans, Miller has logged a 185-135 record. This past season, he led his squad to a regular-season title, a Southern Conference championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance. Miller was named the No. 1 coach under 40 by ESPN in 2020.
Wes’ half brother, Walker Miller, just finished his fourth season playing for the Tar Heels.
“The thing about Coach is, he’s not going to self promote. He’s not going to go around telling everybody about all the good stuff he does.
He just does it.”
– Wes Millerpic.twitter.com/h90gJHfzWl
— UNC Humor (@UNC_Humor) April 1, 2021
As one of the hottest coaches in the college game right now, Nate Oats could be an up-and-coming option for Carolina. With an outstanding season this past year, Oats led the Alabama Crimson Tide to an SEC championship and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Before that, the second-year Bama coach put together four incredible seasons at the helm for the Buffalo Bulls — earning three NCAA Tournament berths and three championships out of the MAC. As two-time coach of the year in the MAC and 2021 coach of the year in the SEC, Oats seems to know how to get it done at any level.
Here’s where we start getting into some difficult territory. Would a coach with a situation like Jay Wright give up what they have to come lead the Tar Heels?
Wright’s resume at Villanova speaks for itself. Through 20 seasons with the Wildcats, the veteran head coach has posted an outstanding 490-189 record, three NCAA Tournament Final Fours and two NCAA championships — including a title win over Roy Williams’ squad in 2016.
If the Heels do go after Wright, the pitch would have to have a strong focus on the program’s pedigree and storied history.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few poses similar issues for UNC. Currently leading his Bulldogs on one of the most dominant runs in NCAA history, it’s hard to imagine Few would want to leave his idilic coaching situation in Spokane.
That being said, the Tar Heels should certainly try. Through 22 seasons with the Zags, Few has proven himself as an undeniable winner. His 17 West Coast Conference championships, 22 NCAA Tournament appearances and two Final Fours show a level of dominance that is seldom seen in college basketball.
The only way Few would leave his current situation would be if he felt the need to prove himself at a higher level conference. But, as his team gears up for what looks like an NCAA championship finish, he probably isn’t too worried about that.
Who do you think the Tar Heels should hire as their next head coach?