NCAAB
April 2, 2021

Ranking the 10 Best Roy Williams Replacements at North Carolina

North Carolina’s loss to Wisconsin in this year's NCAA Tournament is the last game in the Hall of Fame career of coach Roy Williams.

The 70-year-old coach called it a career on Thursday after 903 wins and three national championships. Needless to say, he leaves big shoes to fill at one of the most storied programs in college basketball history.

Of course, Williams also leaves North Carolina at an unusual time. The Tar Heels are a disappointing 32-30 over the last two seasons and finished the 2019-20 campaign for the first time in nearly 20 years. His replacement will have the task of breathing new life into the program and get the Tar heels back on track. So who are the best candidates to succeed Williams at North Carolina?

10. Vince Carter

Vince Carter has barely been retired from the NBA, so he has no coaching experience. However, he’s obviously a beloved figure in Chapel Hill and surely learned a thing or two about basketball during his 20-plus seasons in the NBA.

He’s bound to be a good recruiter once kids get a look at his highlight reel on YouTube. It would certainly be a risky hire because of his lack of experience. But perhaps Juwan Howard’s success at Michigan could push UNC to go a similar route with their opening.

9. Jerod Haase

Jerod Haase is a branch on the Roy Williams coaching tree, including nearly a decade as a North Carolina assistant from 2003 to 2012, so his familiarity with the program will work in his favor. He also has nine years of experience as a head coach, taking UAB to the NCAA Tournament in 2015.

The caveat is that his five seasons at Stanford haven’t been particularly fruitful. He’s just 82-73 with the Cardinal and has a losing record in conference play. Haase has the pedigree, but it could be tough for North Carolina to sell the fanbase on a coach who hasn’t won a lot as a head coach.

8. Jerry Stackhouse

Jerry Stackhouse would probably be more akin to Michigan hiring Howard than Carter would be at UNC. He got his first job as an assistant coach in 2015 before taking over as the Vanderbilt head coach in 2019.

In two seasons as Vandy, Stackhouse is just 20-37 and 6-18 inside the SEC. But recruiting at Vanderbilt is much more difficult than recruiting anywhere else.

The question is whether Stackhouse is a victim of misfortune at a tough program or if he just doesn't have a knack for coaching. However, given his standing in UNC lore, the Tar Heels will have to give Stackhouse some consideration.

7. Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson has been an assistant at North Carolina since Williams returned to his alma mater in 2003. He’d be a good continuity hire, especially if the school isn’t completely sold on young guys like Carter and Stackhouse.

The problem is that he’s 63 and may not be a long-term solution if UNC wants to go with a younger coach. Also, Robinson was just 64-86 as the Florida State head coach from 1997 to 2002, which was the last time he was a head coach.

Finally, a continuity hire may not make sense with the Tar Heels having back-to-back subpar seasons. However, Robinson would make a lot of sense and has all of the necessary credentials.

6. King Rice

King Rice played for the Tar Heels under Dean Smith and left the program with the third-most assists in UNC history. He went into coaching almost immediately and has been the head coach at Monmouth since 2011.

Obviously, the jump from Monmouth to North Carolina is a big one. However, Rice has led the Hawks to three MAAC regular-season titles in the last six years. He’s just 52, so he’s young enough to be a long-term answer at North Carolina if the Tar Heels think he can make the leap from the MAAC to the ACC.

5. LeVelle Moton

While he has no direct ties to UNC, Moton is familiar with the state of North Carolina. He played at North Carolina Central in the 90s, became an assistant at his alma mater in 2007, and has been the program’s head coach since 2009.

It's a little puzzling why Moton hasn’t moved up the coaching ladder given all that he’s accomplished at North Carolina Central. Since 2014, he’s taken the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament four times, albeit with no wins. He’s also won four MEAC regular-season titles during that time, most recently in 2020. Much like Rice, it’d be a big leap to the ACC. But Moton knows the state of North Carolina and clearly knows how to build a program.

4. Mike White

If the Tar Heels can poach Mike White away from Florida, most would agree it’d be a great hire. He has no links to UNC, but at age 44, he’s young enough for it to make sense going from a good program like Florida to a great program in North Carolina.

White hasn’t exactly dominated the SEC with the Gators, and obviously, he’d be expected to make the Tar Heels one of the elite teams in the country. But he did an outstanding coaching job in 2021 after the Gators lost Keyontae Johnson.

He may not be a slam dunk, but White is someone who could become a coaching legend at North Carolina. 

3. Mark Turgeon

Mark Turgeon is on the Roy Williams coaching tree, albeit from the Kansas days, not North Carolina. However, he started his career as an assistant to Larry Brown and Williams, so the pedigree is there.

Turgeon has also been a head coach for over two decades, working his way up from Jacksonville State to Maryland. While he’s probably quite comfortable after 10 seasons with the Terrapins, North Carolina would still be a step up for him.

Of all the coaches currently at power-conference schools, Turgeon figures to be the most likely to join the Tar Heels.

2. Hubert Davis

There appears to be serious consideration being given to Hubert Davis, a former UNC player who spent more than a decade in the NBA, and has been on the UNC coaching staff since 2012.

It would make a ton of sense for him to take the torch from Williams. At 50, he’s someone who could coach the Tar Heels for the next 10-15 years, making him a long-term hire. The only caveat is that he’s never been a head coach.

Of course, as we’ve mentioned, Howard’s early success at Michigan could make North Carolina feel better about handing the keys to someone who’s never actually sat in the driver’s seat.

1. Wes Miller

Wes Miller comes close to checking all of the boxes. He played at North Carolina and was part of the 2005 national championship team. He’s been an assistant at three schools, all of which are in the state of North Carolina. He’s also had success as the head coach at UNC-Greensboro since 2011.

Miller has led the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament twice in the last four years and has won over 20 games in five straight seasons. Miller took over at Greensboro midway through the 2011-12 season, inheriting a program that was 22-80 in the previous three and a half seasons.

The rebuilding he’s done at the program is unbelievably impressive and should have him well-prepared for taking over a top-flight program in need of a boost.

Photo: Getty Images