Hubert Davis ’92, who helped lead the Tar Heels to the 1991 Final Four as a sharpshooting guard and to two Final Fours and a national title during nine years as a UNC assistant coach, has been named Carolina’s new head basketball coach.
Davis succeeds Roy Williams ’72 (’73 MAT), who announced his retirement last week.
Davis will be formally introduced at a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the Dean E. Smith Center.
“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 [Kevin] Guskiewicz and [Athletics Director] 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.”
Said Cunningham: “Hubert Davis is the best leader we can possibly have for our men’s basketball program. 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.”
The nephew of former UNC standout and NBA All-Star Walter Davis ’77, Hubert Davis was recruited by Smith as well as Williams, an assistant coach at the time. Davis initially wasn’t offered a scholarship to Carolina because the coaches didn’t think he could play at the ACC level. Davis’ response: You won’t know if you don’t give me a chance.
“Carolina has been a part of my life — case closed,” Davis said. “I have been on this campus since I was 4, hanging out with Uncle Walt. I went to camp here nine years.”
Davis, a Burke, Va., native, played in 137 games for the Tar Heels from 1988 to ’92; Carolina went 102-37 during that span, winning the 1989 and 1991 Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments and advancing to the 1991 Final Four, where he scored 25 points in the national semifinals against Kansas. He had 23 games with 20 or more points, and he still holds the UNC record for career three-point percentage (.435).
After graduating with a degree in criminal justice, he was the 20th pick by the New York Knicks in the 1992 NBA draft and went on to play professionally for a dozen years, scoring 5,583 points. He currently has the second-highest career three-point percentage in NBA history at .441. He was with the Knicks for four years, traded to the Toronto Raptors prior to the 1996-97 season. After Toronto, Davis spent time with the Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons and New Jersey Nets. Davis played his final NBA game in 2004, finishing with career averages of 8.2 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
Davis then worked for seven years with ESPN as an analyst and co-host of College GameDay before Williams recruited him back to Carolina as an assistant coach and ultimately head JV coach. At the time of his hiring, Williams said Davis was the perfect choice because coaching is about teaching, relationships and passion — and Davis has all three.
“I knew the day would eventually come when I would need to replace staff members as they moved on,” Williams said when Davis was hired in May 2012. “For the last four or five years Hubert has always been on my mind in case a spot did come open. I didn’t know if I could get him to come back, but I knew I wanted him to be the first option. Coaching is about teaching, relationships and passion and I feel Hubert is the perfect choice.”
In 2014, Davis told a writer for The News & Observer: “I would say only four coaches ever came up to me when I took this job and said, ‘Hubert, I’m really happy for you.’ Everybody else said, ‘What are you thinking?’ And I didn’t understand that. I was caught off guard. I really was. And I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ ”
Davis does not have head coaching experience, beyond his six years with the Carolina junior varsity.
Guskiewicz and Cunningham interviewed several candidates from across the country, with input from dozens of men’s basketball alumni and senior athletics department officials. Guskiewicz and Cunningham chose Davis, they said, because of his dedication to student-athletes, leadership, work ethic, service and passion to win.
“I am very pleased that Hubert Davis will continue his outstanding Carolina career as our next men’s basketball coach,”’ Guskiewicz said. “He directly connects our storied past with our exciting future and shows a deep passion for putting our student-athletes in the best position to succeed on and off the court. I can’t wait to see him on campus as the face of our men’s basketball program.”
Davis and his wife, Leslie ’93, have three children: Elijah, Bobbie Grace and Micah. He begins his duties as head coach immediately. Terms of his contract agreement have not been released.