On this April Fools Day, news surfaced via press release from North Carolina directly–Roy Williams retired. Williams replaced the legendary Dean Smith after being a long-time assistant/alum for Coach Smith. Following taking the reigns, Williams got UNC three national championships & brought the Tar Heels to six final four appearances in 17 seasons.
It’s no easy task to replace a guy like Roy Williams, especially on short notice. Still, there are very few guys that aren’t going to entertain the job. Roy is likely going to have a big say in what happens, considering everything he brought to Chapel Hill, UNC’s Athletic department should consider what Williams wishes.
CANDIDATES WHO WON’T ENTERTAIN IT:
Mark Few: Look, there’s virtually no chance Mark Few wants to go to North Carolina. I would like them too if I were UNC fans, but at the end of the day, he’s had many opportunities to leave Spokane and is turning the Zags into a National Powerhouse on the brink of his first National Title. It’s simply not feasible.
Brad Stevens: If Brad Stevens coaches in College Basketball again, I would be pretty surprised. I can’t imagine that’s changing, even for North Carolina. Look, I get why he’s a name for every job opening: He was an elite college coach at Butler, and the Celtics aren’t a good team. That isn’t going to make Brad Stevens leave Boston.
Jay Wright: Another one that isn’t happening. Wright’s had chances to head to the NBA but stayed loyal to Villanova. He isn’t leaving for North Carolina, despite an opening like this not happening very often.
Wes Miller: There’s a ton of reasons for this one to make sense. Miller played under Williams and led the point for one of UNC’s national titles–since leaving Chapel Hill, Miller headed to Greensboro. In his 11 seasons at UNCG, he took the Spartans to two NCAA tournaments & two NIT’s, bringing Greensboro from the pit of irrelevancy to a perennial contender in the Southern Conference. The program’s connection–being only 38 years old & already over a decade of coaching experience. The link to the program makes Wes a legitimate candidate for the job & a likely one.
Sean May: To many reading this, you may be saying to yourself, really? Sean May, the former player? Yes, a big-time assistant for UNC, a guy that Roy Williams respects a ton. He’s young, knows the program & is a legend in Chapel Hill. This isn’t the likeliest of the assistants, but he’ll get an interview.
Hubert Davis: Here’s one that’s going to get an interview & is experienced with the program. Davis played at UNC from 1988-92, became a first-round pick & has been an Assistant for North Carolina since 2012. Roy Williams knows him & loves him and was always seen as a guy who could take the reigns from Roy Williams. If you’re hiring an assistant, you’ll go with Davis more than likely.
Nate Oats: If you’re hiring an outsider, here’s the first call I’d be making. There’s no doubt that Oats is a hot name on the coaching market & he’s not going to be an Alabama lifer. In the next five years, Oats will get a call for seemingly every job opening & he’s a candidate for this job. Oats fits what current basketball is pivoting to these days. Floor-spacing & shooting a ton of triples, not exactly UNC’s forte, but if you get a guy like Nate Oats, you can make changes.
Eric Mussleman: Another outside–Muss was never seen as a guy that’ll be a lifer in Fayetteville, considering his tendency to bounce around in College Basketball, whether it’s as an HC or associate. The way the college basketball landscape is changing, constant movement, transfer portal, all of those things, Mussleman is familiar with all of that. He’s been a frequent member of visiting the transfer portal; he fits what College Basketball is changing to perfectly.
Jerod Haase: There’s nobody here with more familiarity with Roy Williams. The current Stanford coach spent three seasons at Kansas playing for Coach Williams and spent over a decade under his tutelage as an assistant at both Kansas & North Carolina. In Haase’s five seasons at Stanford, he hasn’t appeared in any NCAA Tournaments but made one at UAB. Haase is a guy that’ll get an interview.
PREDICTION: Wes Miller
To me, here’s where I would go. We all know how tremendous of a coach Wes Miller is, an experienced HC that’s under 40-years-old. Look for him to be a major name for the job & expect them to take it should the opportunity arise.