Most—if not all—of the credit or blame lands on the shoulders of the head coach in all sports. That doesn't mean an assistant coach doesn't or can't make a difference.
In his first season as assistant coach at North Carolina, I feel Hubert Davis could make this team better than they would be without him. This is a man that exudes passion for basketball and bleeds Tar Heel Blue.
On top of that, he's one of the best perimeter shooters to ever hit the floor. That's an area UNC will have to improve, after losing steady points from the post duo of John Henson and Tyler Zeller.
I can't think of a better former Tar Heel for the job.
In his first offseason, Hubert Davis has already been hard at work, trying to improve Carolina's 46-percent shooting from last season. Not to mention their 33.8-percent shooting beyond the arc.
According to ESPN's Robbi Pickeral, P.J. Hairston had this to say about the help he has received from Davis:
“Knowing that he was one of the best shooters at the NBA, I kind of took every bit of advice from him. Because coming from a shooter to a shooter, he knows much more than I do about shooting, and shooter perfection. … He basically told me my shot looks good, I just basically have a habit of kicking my foot out sometimes, and that would cause my shot to be short. [He would tell me] stuff like that, and then I’d go back and work on it.”
Reggie Bullock has also been getting help from the legendary shooter. “You know he’s a shooter, I’m a shooter so he tells me what I need to work on in my shot,” Bullock said in an article from The Daily Tar Heel. “He’s just been helping me a lot offensively with my basketball game.”
Reggie Bullock led the Tar Heels in 2011-12, shooting 38.2 percent from three-point range. He's hoping to get better. Even more desperate is Hairston, who shot a disappointing 27.3 percent from that distance.
Hubert Davis completed his career at North Carolina, shooting 43.5 percent from three-point range—an all-time Carolina record. He also holds the record for the highest three-point percentage in a single season at 48.9 percent in his junior year.
His shooting didn't drop off at the next level, either. Davis is second behind Steve Kerr on the all-time NBA list at 44.1 percent from downtown. He also shot a career-high 49.1 percent during the 1999-00 season.
I think he just might qualify to help these kids out with their shooting.
That isn't the only area he will be providing assistance, either. Hubert Davis was a leader on the floor and a consummate professional. That should trickle down the line, and he has already had a conversation with the lone senior, Dexter Strickland.
“He’s the only senior on this team; I was the only senior on my team. So we had a great conversation about the importance of leadership, being the only senior, the responsibilities of a senior leader vocally, being an example,” Davis said in the same article from The Daily Tar Heel. “We were able to relate to that, together, at the same place 20 years later … I thought that was really cool.”
That's just a small example of the mentality he will be bringing to this team.
And while his college and NBA experience can help out these young players on the floor, the combination of that and his time as an ESPN analyst could prove to be invaluable on the recruiting trails, too.
Not only will UNC be able to offer one of the best coaches in the game, in Roy Williams, but they also have a former NBA player and analyst they have watched for years on ESPN. The value of names and familiar faces can go a long way in convincing top players to make the journey to Chapel Hill.
This may not make a difference with the 2013 class, as many were likely already leaning toward a program when he was hired. There was also the worry of the academic scandal, which probably had an influence on players such as Austin Nichols and Nick King.
Fortunately, UNC has been cleared since—at least for now.
I have no doubt we will see the advantages of having Hubert Davis on the bench in the near future. And he is set on making this team gel in the likes of the 1991 Final Four team he was a major part of, so we may not have to wait long to reap the rewards.
“Not only were we good, we were all best friends,” Davis said to The Daily Tar Heel. “We had great chemistry, everybody knew their roles, everybody accepted their roles, and everyone saw the value in what the other person brought to the table. And I think that’s what made that team great."
“If our team resembles that this year, it’s going to be a very special year.”
A special year, indeed. And one that may not have been possible without the assistance of one Hubert Davis.