In his thirteen years as the head coach of North Carolina basketball, Roy Williams has certainly accomplished remarkable things. Since taking over the program in 2003, Williams has led the Tar Heels to seven ACC Regular Season Championships, four Final Fours, and two National Championships. He has undoubtedly cemented his legacy as one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all-time. Unfortunately, all good things must eventually come to an end. With Williams’ recurring health issues restricting his coaching ability, many are beginning to wonder how long it will be until the Tar Heels will be on the market for a new coach. One thing is for sure, Williams’ coaching career is in the final stages. The real question: Who will be his replacement?
Current NCAA head coaches
If Roy Williams was to unexpectedly retire in the next year or two, the University may target someone who is currently ready to upgrade and try his luck at a bigger program. Some of these candidates include Gregg Marshall from Wichita State, and Bryce Drew from Valparaiso. Both coaches have proven themselves at smaller schools and are expected to be highly valued after the end of this season.
One could also make the case for Shaka Smart, the head coach of the Texas Longhorns. Smart began his head coaching career at Virginia Commonwealth University, leading the Rams to a final four berth in just his third season. Smart would be a great hire for the Tar Heels. However, I’m not expecting him to leave Texas unless the job is offered a few years down the road. I would also keep an eye on Brad Stevens, head coach of the Boston Celtics.
Of all of the former players and staff that will have an interest in the looming coaching vacancy, there are a few names that stand out to me. First off, I think we can eliminate Phil Ford and George Karl from contention. Even though both of the former players are qualified for the job, they would both likely be around seventy years old by the time Roy Williams decides to hang it up. I would be shocked if the University didn’t hire someone younger than sixty years old to replace Williams.
One of the likely options for the Tar Heels would be hiring assistant coach Hubert Davis. Davis, a first round pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, will begin his 5th season on the Tar Heel coaching staff this fall. He has limited experience but has been coaching the junior varsity team in Chapel-Hill for a few years now.
Another new name to throw into the mix is former Tar Heel great Jerry Stackhouse. It was just announced this week that Stackhouse will be the Toronto Raptors’ developmental league team head coach for the upcoming season. While at Carolina, Stackhouse was most known for his highlight material dunks against Duke, and for being named Sports Illustrated Player of the Year in 1995.
As a devoted Tar Heel basketball fan who has thought long and hard about this process, I have established my top two candidates; Jerry Stackhouse and Hubert Davis. Both are younger than fifty years old, meaning their coaching window is nowhere close to being closed. Both candidates certainly have their distinct advantages. A Hubert Davis hire would make perfect sense. He is familiar with the coaching and recruiting processes due to his experience with Carolina over the last five years. Hiring Jerry Stackhouse would also be very beneficial to the program because recruits will likely be intrigued by the thought of playing for a former first team All-American.