Spring 2021 Magazine

Hubert Davis takes over as North Carolina basketball coach, aims to be 'example of Christ'

Only four days after the retirement of legendary Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams, the North Carolina Tar Heels have found a replacement: Hubert Davis.

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Williams left Davis with quite a legacy to follow by winning three national titles in 18 years, but Davis said he is honored by the selection.

“I love this university,” he said in a press release. “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 canโ€™t wait for all that comes next.”

Davis played for North Carolina from 1988-1992, reaching a Final Four in 1991, and then spent 12 years in the NBA after being drafted 20th overall by the New York Knicks in 1992.

In 2012, he left his college basketball analyst position at ESPN to join Williams’ staff as an assistant, where he helped lead the Tar Heels to the national championship in 2017. He has also been the head coach of the North Carolina men’s junior varsity team, one of the few JV teams in Division I college basketball, during his second stint in Chapel Hill.

Davis still holds the record for the highest 3-point percentage in North Carolina men’s basketball history at 43.5 percent. He has the second-highest 3-point shooting percentage in NBA history (44.1 percent) behind only Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

The sharpshooter’s selection as North Carolina’s next head coach makes him the first Black head coach in the program’s history, and he has the support of a number of former Tar Heel greats.

Now as he prepares to take the reins, Davis will rely on his strong faith in Christ.

“The reason why I made this decision [to return to North Carolina as an assistant], No. 1, is this is where I felt like Christ wanted me and my family to go,” Davis said on the UNPACKIN’ it podcast in 2014. “Wherever He wants us to go, I’m following Him. I’m not going any other direction. … This is not a job, it feels like a mission field, a ministry opportunity.”

He continued later, “I’m here to serve and shed light on and be an example for Christ.”

Faith in Christ has often thrived in the North Carolina locker room since Davis returned to Chapel Hill.

In 2018, Tar Heel forward Luke Maye, most known for his game-winning shot to send the Tar Heels to the Final Four in 2017, was a regular attendee at a Tuesday night Bible study Davis organized together with members from a local church. Davis was also active on a group chat among the team’s believers, often imparting words of encouragement and Biblical insight.

“[Maye] really is an example on the court and off the court,” Davis told Sports Spectrum for a 2018 magazine feature story, “and you always want to be an example of Christ in the way that you walk and everything that you do.”

โ€œThe most important thing in my life is my relationship with Jesus Christ,” Davis told the Christian Broadcasting Network before the 2016 Final Four. “And Iโ€™m so thankful for [Him] giving me the opportunity to be back here at North Carolina.”

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