UNC-Greensboro head coach Wes Miller encourages his team during the first half of a first-round game against Florida State in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, Saturday, March 20, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
- UNC head coach Roy Williams is retiring after 33 seasons, the last 18 in Chapel Hill
- Williams’ top assistant and former Tar Heel Hubert Davis has emerged as the favorite to replace him (+100) while UNCG’s Wes Miller is also under consideration
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for the UNC coaching search
It turns out the first time Roy Williams ever lost a first round game in the NCAA Tournament will end up being his last as a head coach.
The Hall of Famer announced his retirement Thursday – but this was no April Fool’s prank. UNC’s 82-65 defeat to Wisconsin in its March Madness opener was the 70-year-old’s swan song after 33 seasons (18 in Chapel Hill and 15 at Kansas).
Now, the attention shifts to the three-time national championship-winning coach’s successor. Will it be his longtime assistant Hubert Davis?
UNC Greenboro’s Wes Miller (+275) and Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse (+600) have relatively short odds. Or does the program go outside the Carolina bubble and try to lure a recent title-winning coach like Tony Bennett or Jay Wright?
Odds to Be Next North Carolina Basketball Head Coach
Odds as of April 1st
UNC now becomes the second blueblood program conducting a coaching search in the last two-plus weeks after Indiana parted ways with Archie Miller and brought in Hoosier alum Mike Woodson to replace him.
The only common name from IU’s list last week to UNC’s pool of candidates now is Baylor’s Scott Drew. The longtime Bears head coach was a +1000 possibility in Bloomington and stands as a +1200 option to land on Tobacco Road.
Let’s examine to top candidates and offer a possible sleeper.
The figure of speech has real meaning in many ways – and certainly does when it comes to the person who will follow Williams on the Carolina sidelines. That’s why Davis appears to be a mortal lock for this role.
To me, there are two names for the UNC job:
Hubert Davis and Wes Miller.
Maybe I’ll be wrong, but I’d be very surprised if anyone else succeeds Roy Williams.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) April 1, 2021
The 50-year-old checks off all the boxes. He’s a Tar Heel alum, played 12 years in the NBA and has served as Williams’ top lieutenant for the last nine seasons – including the Heels’ last title in 2017. Williams was legendary UNC head coach Dean Smith’s top assistant, but headed off to Lawrence for a decade-and-a-half prior to coming home when Smith was still an elite coach.
Smith’s successor, Bill Guthridge, was another Smith assistant prior to being elevated to the top spot. Hiring top assistants is the Carolina way, making Davis the logical choice to be next up.
Another former Tar Heel – one with head coaching experience (unlike Davis) – is just down the road in Greensboro. Wes Miller took over the UNCG Spartans during the 2011-12 season, and has had built a nice program.
Miller’s teams have won at least 21 games in five straight seasons and have played in two of the last three NCAA Tournaments. The 38-year-old was also a player on Williams’ first Tar Heel title team in 2005 and, like Davis, has cultivated relationships in the state with high school coaches – making him an attractive candidate from a recruiting perspective.
🗣: @stephenasmith, a graduate of @WSSURAMS, thinks @NCCU’s @LeVelleMoton would be a great Roy Williams replacement. https://t.co/S6JtyINRxI
— HBCU Gameday (@HBCUGameday) April 1, 2021
A potential wild card here (at least according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith) – and someone not even on the board – is North Carolina Central’s LaVelle Moton.
Moton, like Miller, has developed strong ties with prep and AAU programs in the Tar Heel State. He has also taken the Eagles from the MEAC to the Big Dance four of the last seven years.
While Moton is a worthy candidate, he doesn’t have that Tar Heel pedigree that seems to be imperative.
2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker
What’s the Buzz?
Among the longshots on the board, current Charlotte Hornets assistant general manager Buzz Peterson is the most intriguing name. At +3300, he’s definitely worth an investment wager.
It’s time to bring Buzz Peterson home. https://t.co/psHQwmbKfM
— Justin Hoskins (@justin_hoskins) April 1, 2021
First of all, Peterson’s boss (and former roommate at Chapel Hill) is the most famous UNC alum of all-time in Michael Jordan.
MJ’s clout would go a long way in encouraging North Carolina leadership to hire Peterson if Buzz wanted to pursue the opportunity. Peterson is a former Heel player, as he was part of Smith’s first title team in 1982.
Third, he has a strong head coaching resume, leading a variety of schools (including Tennessee, UNC-Wilmington and Appalachian State). One issue with Peterson? He’s only coached one of those teams – the 1999-2000 App State Mountaineers – to the NCAA Tournament.
UNC has exceedingly higher expectations than that. A Peterson hire in this spot smacks of Matt Doherty 2.0.
There’s a reason Davis is the chalk. Following a year of uncertainty amid the pandemic, North Carolina brass would be smart to make Davis the next leader in the Dean Dome.
Best Bet: Hubert Davis (+100)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.