Hubert Davis’ tenure as head coach of the University of North Carolina men’s basketball program has begun! They have played three games in this 2021-2022 season with two fairly easy wins and the other a hard fought contest. They beat Layola (MD) 83-67, Brown University by a tally of 94-87, and beat The College Charleston handily in the second half to make the final score 94-83. The road to this season and these three wins have come on us fast, but Davis’ rise to being UNC’s new head coach has been much longer.
He was born in Winston-Salem, NC on May 17, 1970, and attended high school at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, VA. He averaged 28 points per game his senior season while leading his team to a great year. He was a lifelong Carolina fan due in part to his uncle, Walter Davis, playing there in the 1970s. It was Hubert’s lifelong dream to play at North Carolina. So when Dean Smith, the legendary coach for UNC, recruited Davis, the decision to attend Carolina and play basketball was an easy one.
It changed his life forever. Hubert Davis had a stellar career at North Carolina from the 1988-1989 season to the 1991-1992 season where he still holds the record for the highest career three-point percentage in school history. During his junior year, he almost achieved his lifelong dream to win an NCAA championship before falling short against Kansas in the Final Four. During his senior year in 1992, he was selected to the Second-Team All-ACC by averaging 21.4 points per game. Again he was so close to winning a championship, as the year after he graduated, UNC won the NCAA championship by beating Michigan.
He then had aspirations to win championships in the NBA after he got drafted 20th overall by the New York Knicks in the 1992 NBA draft. He got the opportunity to play alongside All-Time-Great Patrick Ewing right out of college and almost got the title ring in 1994. Davis played a key role in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference when he hit the clinching free throws in Game 5 against the Chicago Bulls to send them to the Eastern Conference finals. This win carried great significance because the Knicks kept getting knocked out of the playoffs each year by the Bulls.
But in 1994 Michael Jordan was playing baseball and Ewing’s Knicks were finally able to break through and end the torment. But once again Davis missed out on a championship when the Houston Rockets beat the Knicks in seven games in the NBA Finals. He stayed with New York through the 1996 season, then the Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, and Washington Wizards through the 2002 season. He was then traded to the Detroit Pistons where he was, again, so close to winning that elusive championship.
During the 2004 season, Davis was traded to the New Jersey Nets. The Pistons ended up winning it all that very year. He was so close, but still so far. Davis played his final game in 2004, finishing with career averages of 8.1 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. He became a legend in his own right by having nearly a 44.1% career three-point shooting percentage, which still ranks him third behind Steve Kerr and Seth Curry.
After he hung up his playing shoes, starting in 2008, Davis landed a spot with ESPN as a college basketball analyst. From 2008-2012 he was one of the feature commentators on ESPN’s College Gameday crew. They traveled to a different college campus in a different corner of the country each Saturday during the basketball season. They set up a huge TV set each Saturday in a hot spot close to that campus’s basketball arena and discussed each weekend game while featuring that college’s team. Many hundreds of students would always be there to cheer and celebrate their team, and it gave Davis great national exposure as he was the most beloved analyst.
Then in 2012, he got the invitation of a lifetime. Then-head coach Roy Williams asked Hubert to come back to UNC to coach under him as an assistant. Ol Roy was already one of the best coaches in the nation after winning national championships in 2005 and 2009 and dominating ACC basketball since returning to UNC in 2003. So Davis couldn’t turn him down. Immediately he fit in perfectly with Williams’ coaching style and their dominance in the ACC continued.
Then in 2017 Davis finally got to experience the joy and elation of winning a national championship. Many of the players, including team leaders Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, credited Davis with being their mentor. This showed that Coach Williams was already grooming him to be the next head coach, even though no one realized it at the time. Roy was only continuing walking in the path to greatness that he learned under his mentor Dean Smith.
As an assistant under Smith from 1978-1988, Williams learned all that it required to be a great head coach. Then he abruptly retired on April 1 of this year and four days later it was announced that Davis would take over. Before becoming one of Roy’s assistants Davis never imagined he’d be a coach. Now he knew all he needed to become the next legendary coach in this storied program.
So the drama, greatness, and excitement has started for Hubert, and his long journey to being a head coach is complete. He is 3-0, has future NBA players in Armando Bacot, Caleb Love, Kerwin Walton, and Brady Manek, and the backing of the greatest college basketball program in the nation. Good luck my friend!
Article by: Chris Steele, iHearts143Quotes Team member