Larry Brown Hopes Roy Williams Is Able to Pick His Successor as UNC Head Coach

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2021

North Carolina Head Basketball Coach Roy Williams speaks with members of the media during a news conference, Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Chapel Hill, N.C. Williams is retiring after 33 seasons and 903 wins as a college basketball head coach. The Hall of Fame coach led the University of North Carolina to three NCAA championships in 18 seasons as head coach of the Tar Heels. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Legendary college basketball and NBA head coach Larry Brown expressed hope Friday that Roy Williams will be allowed to pick his successor as head coach at the University of North Carolina.

Appearing on ACC Network's Packer and Durham (h/t ESPN.com), Brown said: "In my gut, I hope Roy Williams picks his successor, and I hope it's someone from the Carolina family. ... I know what Coach [Dean] Smith would want, I know what Coach [Frank] McGuire would want. ... Keep it in the family, and let's move forward."

The 70-year-old Williams announced his retirement Thursday after spending 18 seasons as the head men's basketball coach at UNC.

Per ESPN, Williams said upon retiring: "I no longer feel that I am the right man for the job."

While Brown never coached at UNC, he played his college basketball for the Tar Heels, making him deeply rooted in the school's basketball legacy.

Like Brown, Williams is a North Carolina alum, and it was considered a huge deal when UNC hired him away from Kansas in 2003.

In 15 seasons at Kansas, Williams took the Jayhawks to the NCAA tournament 14 times, and he brought them to the Final Four on four occasions, including two appearances in the National Championship Game.

At UNC, Williams replaced Matt Doherty, who enjoyed little success in three seasons after taking over for Bill Guthridge, who was the replacement for the legendary Dean Smith.

Guthridge was an assistant under Smith before becoming head coach, while Doherty played his college basketball at UNC before taking over for Guthridge.

With regard to the current vacancy, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said the program needs to take a "great deal of time" considering who to hire as Williams' replacement.

Cunningham added: "The history and tradition here is winning. We've had it in the family for a long period of time. That is important. But it's not the only factor in trying to make a decision like this."

North Carolina has won the NCAA tournament six times, and Williams was at the helm for three of them in 2005, 2009 and 2017.

In his 18 seasons at UNC, Williams went 485-163 and led the Tar Heels to the NCAA tournament 16 times.

Additionally, North Carolina won nine ACC regular-season titles and three ACC tournament titles under Williams and made it as far as the Final Four in the NCAA tournament five times.

It is unclear who will replace Williams or if he will have any say in the process, but given North Carolina's status as a blueblood basketball school, the decision-makers should have little issue finding a qualified candidate to take over.