UNC hires Hubert Davis as head coach

North Carolina’s Hubert Davis celebrates on the court with teammates after the Tar Heels defeated Temple in the 1991 NCAA East Regional final. Davis will be the successor to Roy Williams as head coach of the Tar Heels. (Bill Kostro / AP Photo)

Hubert Davis will replace Roy Williams as North Carolina head coach, the school announced on Monday. The UNC Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting Monday to approve the hiring, and the team will hold a meeting to inform the players later in the afternoon.

Davis played for North Carolina for four years, ending in 1992, making one Final Four appearance. After a 12-year NBA career and four years as an ESPN basketball analyst, Davis joined Williams’ staff at UNC in 2012. He has been to two Final Fours as an assistant, including the 2017 NCAA title run, where players credited an emotional halftime speech from Davis for helping spark a Final Four comeback win.

Davis has spent time as head coach of the UNC JV team, which is his only head coaching experience. He is the first UNC basketball coach hired without previous head coaching experience since Bill Guthridge in 1997. Dean Smith, who coached from 1961 to 1997, also was hired without head coaching experience.

Davis becomes the first African American head coach in UNC basketball history.

Davis was believed to be the choice of Williams, who retired after 18 years in the job last week, to replace him at the helm of the program, and Davis had support from many current and former players. Athletics director Bubba Cunningham said that he preferred to hire coaches with previous head coaching experience, but he wasn’t going to be “myopic” if a candidate without it was considered the top choice for the job. Similarly, Cunningham wanted to remain true to the school’s basketball history but said he wasn’t going to limit the search to candidates who, like Davis, were members of the Carolina family.

“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 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.”

“Hubert Davis is the best leader we can possibly have for our men’s basketball program,” Cunningham said. “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.”