Yesterday was a monumental day for Carolina Basketball, as Hubert Davis was officially introduced as the 19th head coach in the storied program. In doing so, Davis became the first African-American head coach of Carolina Basketball, and just the third in overall history of Carolina Athletics, but it was more important than that. After officially taking the job on Monday afternoon, we got a glimpse of what this program will look like under Davis. While not much will change under the new head coach, because as he referenced the foundation has been set for the last 60 years, he’s going to tweak some things we grew accustomed to under former head coach Roy Williams. The first change that we’ve already seen take place is on the staff, as it’s going to be very imperative for Davis to surround himself with people that he can trust, and will help him grow in his new role.
While he didn’t mention it during his presser, Kendal Marshall won’t be retained heading into next season, and beyond. The Assistant Director of Operations, played for Roy Williams from 2010-2012, and is among the greatest point guards to ever play basketball in Chapel Hill. With Davis moving over to the head coach’s chair, there are now two opening positions on his staff, and there may be more to come, depending on what happens with longtime assistant Steve Robinson. Davis addressed his staff, saying that to coach at North Carolina you have to be a “Carolina guy”. He also mentioned he wants to bridge the generations of Carolina Basketball on his staff. With that in mind, here are potential candidates to occupy Davis on the bench starting next season:
King Rice: Despite being interviewed for the vacancy in Chapel Hill, there is still a chance King Rice could be coaching basketball at his alma mater next season. Rice is the current head coach at Monmouth, and has experienced success in upstate New York. Rice has been with the program since 2011, and boasts a 161-151 career mark. Despite never making the NCAA Tournament, Rice has taken the program to the NIT twice during his tenure. Back in 2016, Monmouth visited Chapel Hill for a non-conference game, ultimately losing 102-74. Rice was visibly emotional in his media availability after the game, talking about what Dean Smith, and Carolina Basketball means to him personally. Rice played with Hubert Davis in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and is a prime candidate to join Davis’ staff. He would help bridge together generations of Tar Heels, while providing head coaching experience to his former teammate.
George Lynch: Like King Rice, Lynch is a former teammate of Hubert Davis’ and they played together when the Tar Heels reached the Final Four in 1991. Lynch is known best for his defense and leadership on the 1993 team that won Dean Smith his second national championship. Following his college career, and lengthy NBA career, Lynch got into coaching starting at SMU. Lynch was an assistant with the Mustangs from 2012-13, before taking a 4 year break from the profession. He returned to the sidelines again as an assistant in 2017 with the Grand Rapids Drive in the G-League. He stayed in that role for just one season, and was named the head coach of HBCU Clark Atlanta in 2018. While Lynch doesn’t have a lot of experience coaching in either college or the NBA, he’s a known commodity within the Carolina Family, and his NBA experience would resonate with top tier recruits Davis hopes to attract to his program.
Jeff Lebo: As with both Rice and Lynch, Lebo is a former teammate of Davis, having played with him for 2 seasons. Lebo worked his way through the coaching ranks, starting off with Tennessee Tech in the OVC, before moving to Chattanooga out of the Southern Conference. Despite never making the NCAA Tournament with either mid major program, Lebo became the head coach at Auburn in 2004. He led the Tigers program for six seasons, and never made the NCAA Tournament either, and wasn’t retained after 2010. From Auburn, he returned to the Tar Heel state, leading the East Carolina program for 7 full seasons, before resigning 6 games into his 8th season in Greeneville. He did win the CIT Tournament in 2013, but never took the Pirates to the Big Dance. After his time in college basketball, he joined the Greensboro Swarm as an assistant for one season, before dropping down to the high school ranks. Lebo brings a wealth of time and experience in college basketball. Don’t let the fact that he’s never taken a program to the NCAA Tournament distract you from his ability to coach, and recruit. It’s not easy to win at the places he’s stopped along the way. Experienced assistants are going to benefit Hubert Davis, and Jeff Lebo fits the bill.
Jeff McInnis: McInnis isn’t a former teammate of the new head coach, but he’s a prime candidate for sure. McInnis played at Carolina from 1993-96, before enjoying a 12 year career playing basketball professionally. McInnis played in the NBA, in Greece and in the CBA, all before retiring professionally in 2008. McInnis is the head coach of growing prep power Combine Academy in Lincolnton, NC. McInnis was named the head coach back in 2019, and has been an integral part of the program’s growing success. Given his track record with AAU basketball as well, including being named the 17U National Coach of the Year in 2015. McInnis would be a great addition to the staff for recruiting, and player development.
Bobby Frasor: Of all the candidates listed above, they all are tied back to Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge. Hubert Davis has made it known that he wants to incorporate all members of the Carolina Family on his staff, including Roy Williams.He’s already elevated Sean May to a role on the bench staff, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Frasor played at Carolina for four seasons, and was a member of the 2009 national championship team. He served as the video coordinator for the program back in 2011, before following Jerrod Haase to UAB in 2012. He was the Director of Operations with the Blazers until 2015, when he left to become the head coach at his former high school Brother Rice in Chicago, where he’s been ever since. While he wouldn’t be considered a major addition, Frasor could learn the college landscape, while keeping Roy Williams’ philosophy in the Carolina Basketball program.
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