The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the school hasn’t commented publicly about the search. Davis later confirmed his hiring in a video statement on Twitter.
The 50-year-old Davis played for the Tar Heels under Dean Smith before a long NBA career, and he had spent the past nine seasons working under Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams. Williams retired last week after 18 seasons at his alma mater in a career that also included 15 years at Kansas and 903 overall victories, while all three of his NCAA championships came with the Tar Heels.
The school has long had a history of turning to people with UNC ties to lead its program, which owns six NCAA championships and ranks among college basketball’s all-time wins leaders. It has worked before, with longtime assistant Bill Guthridge taking over after Smith’s 1997 retirement and leading the Tar Heels to two Final Fours, as well as Williams’ return from Kansas in 2003.
But it didn’t work during the three-year tumultuous tenure of Matt Doherty – including an 8-20 season in 2002 – after Williams turned down the job following Guthridge’s retirement in 2000.
The Tar Heels are staying in the “Carolina family” again, this time by turning to a trusted former player who has never been a college head coach.
Davis had been on Williams’ staff since 2012 as a bench coach, recruiter and scout, including a run to the 2016 NCAA title game and then the championship a year later. He had also served as head coach of the UNC junior varsity program and oversaw the program’s charitable endeavors.
Davis, the nephew of former UNC player and NBA All-Star Walter Davis, played for Smith from 1988-92 and still holds the program record for career 3-point percentage (.435). He went onto become a first-round NBA draft pick by the New York Knicks and spent a dozen seasons in the league.
After his playing career, Davis spent seven years with ESPN as a college basketball analyst until Williams asked Davis to join his staff in 2012 — which Davis said at the time was “a total surprise.”
Now it’s up to Davis to keep the Tar Heels among the nation’s elite programs.