North Carolina native son Roy Williams enters his 10th season as the head coach of the Tar Heels and 25th as a college head coach. Williams, a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and College Basketball Hall of Fame, has led Carolina to national championships in 2005 and 2009, another Final Four in 2008, Elite Eights in 2007, 2011 and 2012, five NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds, seven Associated Press Top 10 final rankings, six ACC regular-season titles, two ACC Tournament crowns, five 30-win seasons and developed 13 first-round NBA Draft picks.
ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News and Fox Sports named him the Coach of the Decade for 2000-2009. Williams led Kansas and Carolina to 33 NCAA Tournament wins in the 2000s, eight more than any other coach.
Over his final two years at Kansas and his first nine seasons at UNC, Williams has won 320 games and coached four National Players of the Year. He’s won 36 NCAA Tournament games and led teams to the Final Four five times in those 11 seasons.
The Asheville native has directed teams at Kansas and UNC to a record of 675-169. His winning percentage of .800 is the fourth highest in the history of college basketball and No. 1 among active coaches.
On April 6, 2009, the Tar Heels beat Michigan State to capture UNC’s fifth NCAA Tournament title. In 2005, Carolina beat top-ranked Illinois to win Williams’ first national title. He is one of 13 coaches to win multiple national championships, joining an illustrious list that includes only two other ACC coaches – Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski.
The Sporting News surveyed a panel of 50 former ACC standout players in 2010 asking them which current ACC coach they would want to play for other than their alma mater’s – Williams received 19 votes. No other coach received more than 8.5 votes.
Carolina is 257-68 (.791) in his nine seasons. He has set UNC coaching records for most wins for one year (36 in 2007-08), two years (70 in 2008-09), three years (101 from 2007-09), four years (124 from 2006-09), five years (157 from 2005-09), six years (176 from 2004-09), seven years (206 from 2005-12) and is tied for the most in any eight-year span (225, tied with 1991-98).
At Carolina, Williams has coached two National Players of the Year (Sean May in 2005, Tyler Hansbrough in 2008), three Bob Cousy Award winners presented to the best point guard in the country (Raymond Felton in 2005, Ty Lawson in 2009, Kendall Marshall in 2012), three ACC Players of the Year (Hansbrough in 2008, Lawson in 2009, Tyler Zeller in 2012), two ACC Athletes of the Year (May in 2005, Hansbrough in 2008), four ACC Rookies of the Year (Marvin Williams in 2005, Hansbrough in 2006, Brandan Wright in 2007, Harrison Barnes in 2011), two Final Four MOPs (May in 2005, Wayne Ellington in 2009) and 16 NBA Draft picks.
Hansbrough set the all-time ACC scoring mark and became the first player in league history to earn first-team All-America and first-team All-ACC honors in each of his four seasons. He also became Carolina’s all-time leading rebounder and set the NCAA record for free throws made.
The Tar Heels have set new standards for exemplary point guard play under Williams, who has coached three of the finest floor leaders in ACC history in Felton, Lawson and Marshall. Felton led the Tar Heels to the 2005 NCAA title; Lawson won a national championship in 2009 and set the ACC single-season record for highest assist-error ratio; and Marshall led UNC to back-to-back league titles and set ACC records for most assists, highest assist average and most double-figure assist games in a season and posted the highest career assist-error ratio in ACC history. No other school has won more than one Cousy Award.
“He’s the best coach I’ve ever had,” says Marshall, whose 351 assists in 2011-12 were the fourth-most in NCAA history. “He runs a pro system and he does a great job of getting the most out of his players within a team concept.”
Williams is one of the most successful coaches in NCAA Tournament history. His teams are 61-20 in 22 seasons and he has the third-highest winning percentage (.753) for coaches with at least 30 games. His Kansas and UNC teams have reached the Sweet 16 15 times, the Elite Eight 11 times and the Final Four on seven occasions.
Carolina is 27-6 in the NCAA Tournament under Williams, a winning percentage of .818 that is the highest for any coach with at least 25 NCAA Tournament games at one school. In the last eight years, the Tar Heels have advanced to at least the regional final six times – no other school has more than four appearances in the Final 8 in that same span. The 2012 season marked the fifth time that Williams led Carolina to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and his 10th No. 1 seed overall, the second-most in NCAA history. In fact, only four schools have been a No. 1 seed as often as Williams.
Williams has a 48-24 record in ACC road games, a winning percentage of .667 that equals Duke’s Vic Bubas for the best in ACC history. The Tar Heels have posted winning records on the road in six of his nine seasons, including 8-0 in 2007-08, 7-1 in 2005-06 and 2011-12 and 6-2 in three other seasons.
Williams’ remarkable coaching ledger includes:
• 675 wins as a head coach, tying Denny Crum for 21st place all-time
• 418 wins at Kansas and 257 at Carolina, the second-most at each school behind Phog Allen and Smith, respectively
• a record of 950-230 in 34 seasons as a collegiate head coach and assistant coach
• seven Final Fours, fourth-most in history behind Wooden, Smith and Krzyzewski
• winning 30 or more games 10 times, the second-most in history (and 18 seasons with 25 or more wins)
• 22 seasons with 20 or more wins, including every year except when he won 19 in his first seasons at both Kansas and Carolina
• three consecutive 30-win seasons from 2007-09, the first time Carolina accomplished that
• 61 NCAA Tournament wins, third-most all-time behind Krzyzewski (73) and Smith (65)
• 81 NCAA Tournament games, third most in history
• 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, the second-longest streak in NCAA history behind Smith’s 23
• 20 consecutive seasons with a win in the NCAA Tournament, the only coach to accomplish that, and 22 NCAA Tournaments with at least one win
• seven-time National Coach of the Year (1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2005, 2006 and 2009), nine-time conference Coach of the Year (1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2011)
• recipient of the 2003 John Wooden Legends of Coaching Award
• one of three coaches (with Frank McGuire and Larry Brown) to lead two different schools to the national championship game, but the only coach to lead two schools to two appearances in the finals (Kansas in 1991 and 2003; Carolina in 2005 and 2009)
• six ACC regular-season championships in nine seasons, tied for the third most in ACC history (Smith won 17 in 36 years, Krzyzewski 11 in 31 and McGuire six in 24)
• 15 conference regular-season championships and 19 times finishing either first or second in the conference standings
• winning his 500th game on Dec. 9, 2006, in his 19th season (only coach to do so in less than 20 years)
• reaching 100, 200, 300, 400 and 600 wins in fewer seasons than any coach
• winning more games than any coach after eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 seasons
• 105-39 record in ACC regular-season games
• 165 wins in his first 200 games at an ACC school, more than any coach in history
• 331-33 record at home, a winning percentage of .909
• his teams have been ranked No. 1 in the nation in 11 seasons and at least No. 2 in the country in 16 seasons
• the Associated Press has ranked the Tar Heels in the Top 25 in 149 of 172 polls, including 109 Top 10 rankings, 84 times in the Top 5 and 27 weeks as the No. 1 team in the country
• coaching four National Players of the Year, 15 first-team All-Americas, nine conference player or athletes of the year, three Bob Cousy Award winners, 28 first-team all-conference players, 35 academic all-conference selections, two Academic All-Americas of the Year and 24 NBA first-round draft picks.
Williams believes in up-tempo, fast break basketball, while at the same time taking care of the basketball and getting high percentage, open shots. His teams have averaged 83.1 points at UNC with the Tar Heels reaching 100 or more points 44 times. In 19 of his 24 seasons as a head coach his teams have averaged at least 80 points. Carolina has ranked in the top four nationally in scoring in six of his nine seasons and either first or second in the ACC in points per game in all but one season.
Overall his teams have finished in the top 10 nationally in scoring 11 times, in scoring margin 16 times, in field goal percentage 12 times, in win-loss percentage 11 times and in field goal defense four times. Also, his squads have finished in the top seven nationally in assists per game in eight of the last 11 years and in the top eight nationally in rebounding margin in 11 of the last 16 years.
Dan Wetzel, national columnist for Yahoo! Sports, wrote in April 2009: “There isn’t a more perfect union in college basketball than Roy and Carolina; the ideal combination of style and substance, recruiting might and coaching acumen, of championships won and won and, most certainly, won again.”
In February 2009, Forbes named Williams the best basketball coach in the country, choosing him by analyzing win-loss percentages, NCAA Tournament appearances, Final Fours, national championships and recruiting.
Forbes wrote: “A top-notch recruiter and motivator, Williams coaches with an unflappable cool, a trait reflected in his players’ calm on the court.”
Williams’ ability to relate to players and their families, both in the recruiting process and throughout their careers, is something his players speak of when they account for his success.
On March 8, 2009, Senior Day at Carolina, an emotional Hansbrough thanked Williams for living up to a promise Williams made during his recruitment that the coach would always be honest with him.
“He always tells you the straight-up truth about what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear,” says Hansbrough. “That helped me not only as a player but also as a person.”
Williams is one of nine Tar Heels to be enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, joining a group that includes Dean Smith, Michael Jordan, Larry Brown, Billy Cunningham, James Worthy and Bob McAdoo. Twenty-three of his former players from Carolina and Kansas joined him in Springfield, Mass., for the induction ceremony in 2007.
“What Coach Smith began with the Carolina family, Coach Williams continues to grow,” says Worthy. “The family and camaraderie and success and just the same as when I played here. The whole family is a fraternity, and it continues to grow.”
Carolina has won 28 of 32 ACC regular-season games over the last two seasons, earning ACC Coach of the Year honors in 2011 and leading the Tar Heels to consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
The 2009 Tar Heels won their fourth ACC regular-season title in the last five years, won their fourth straight game at Duke and landed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year.In the NCAA Tournament, Carolina put on a stunning display, winning six games by an average of 20.2 points, the highest margin in 13 years. UNC became the first team to win all six games by a dozen or more points.
In 2008, Williams led the Tar Heels to a school-record 36 wins, ACC regular-season and Tournament titles and a berth in the Final Four with a win over Louisville in the regional final. Hansbrough won every major National Player of the Year award. He became the fourth to play for Williams – along with Jayhawks Drew Gooden and Nick Collison and UNC’s Sean May – to win National Player of the Year honors since 2002.
In 2006, Carolina faced the loss of its top seven scorers, which was unprecedented in ACC history. Sports Illustrated predicted Carolina would miss the NCAA Tournament and the Tar Heels were picked by the media to finish sixth in the ACC. However, Williams earned National and ACC Coach of the Year honors by leading the youngest team in Carolina history to a second-place ACC finish, a win at top-ranked Duke and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The 2005 national championship capped a season in which the Tar Heels went 33-4, including a 14-2 mark in the ACC. Carolina led the nation in scoring average, scoring margin and assists and became the third team in history to lead the nation in scoring and win the NCAA championship.
Williams became the UNC head coach on April 14, 2003, 10 days after leading Kansas to the NCAA championship game against Syracuse.
Williams was an assistant coach at Carolina from 1978-88. Working for Dean Smith, he helped coach such standouts as Mike O’Koren, Al Wood, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Matt Doherty, Michael Jordan, Brad Daugherty, Kenny Smith, Joe Wolf, Steve Hale, Jeff Lebo, J.R. Reid and Scott Williams.
Carolina won the NCAA title in 1982, finished second in 1981 and won or shared six ACC regular-season titles and three ACC Tournament championships.
Kansas hired Williams on July 8, 1988, replacing another UNC Hall of Famer, Larry Brown. Williams coached a number of the finest Kansas players in history, including Mark Randall, Adonis Jordan, Rex Walters, Greg Ostertag, Scot Pollard, Jacque Vaughn, Raef LaFrentz, Paul Pierce, Drew Gooden, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich.
The Jayhawks averaged 27.9 wins per season with a high of 35 in 1997-98. He also won 30 in 1989-90, 34 in 1996-97, 33 in 2001-02 and 30 in 2002-03. The Jayhawks reached the Sweet 16 nine times and the Final Eight on five occasions.
In seven years of Big 12 Conference play, his teams went 94-18, capturing the regular-season title in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2003 and the postseason tournament crown in 1997, 1998 and 1999. In 2001-02, KU became the first Big 12 team to go 16-0 in league play. From 1995-98, Kansas was a combined 123-17 – an average of 30.8 wins per season.
His teams have dominated at home, posting a record of 331-33 (.909). He led the Jayhawks to a 201-17 record (92.2) in Allen Fieldhouse, at one point winning 62 consecutive games. The Tar Heels are 129-16 at the Smith Center and 1-0 at Carmichael Arena under Williams and set the school record for consecutive home wins with 31.
Williams has coached players to 28 first-team all-conference honors, including 11 UNC selections. The 2012 season marked the first time in UNC history and only second time in ACC history that three players (Zeller, John Henson and Barnes) made the first team. Eight players – five Jayhawks, plus Hansbrough, Lawson and Zeller – have won conference player of the year honors.
Zeller and Marshall each earned first-team All-America honors in 2012, the 14th and 15th first-team All-America seasons by Williams’ players.
Gooden (2002), Collison (2003), May (2005) and Hansbrough (2008) won National Player of the Year honors and LaFrentz (1997 and 1998), Pierce (1998), Gooden (2002), Collison (2003) and Hansbrough (2007, 2008 and 2009) have earned consensus first-team All-America honors.
NBA teams have selected 24 of his players in the first round, including Barnes, Marshall, Henson and Zeller, who all went in the first round in 2012. It was the second time that four of Williams’ Tar Heels went in the first round in the same draft. In 2005, UNC became the first program to have four players chosen in the NBA Lottery when Marvin Williams, Felton, May and Rashad McCants were selected.
Williams emphasizes academic development. Every Carolina senior in his tenure has either received his degree or is on track to do so. May, the 2005 Final Four MVP, entered the NBA Draft after his junior year but later earned his degree. Marvin Williams, who went to the NBA in 2005 after just one season, has taken summer classes in Chapel Hill each year since and is a junior in academic standing.
“What he has meant to me personally, I can’t put into words,” Marvin Williams said this past summer after signing with Utah. “I’ve never had another person outside my family care about me as much as Coach Williams has. I can never thank him enough for the things he has done for me.”
Four of his players have earned first-team Academic All-America honors – Jayhawks Vaughn (twice), Jerod Haase and Ryan Robertson at Kansas and Carolina’s Tyler Zeller (twice) – and 36 have earned first-team academic all-conference honors, including Zeller, a four-time recipient. Zeller became the first Tar Heel to be named the Academic All-America of the Year, became the school’s first two-time, first-team Academic All-America and was twice named the ACC’s top scholar-athlete. Vaughn also was the Academic All-America of the Year, making Williams the only coach in the last 25 years to have two different players win that award.
Williams grew up in the Biltmore neighborhood of south Asheville. He attended Roberson High, where he played for Coach Buddy Baldwin. He played on Carolina’s freshman team in 1968-69 and earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1972 and a master’s degree in teaching in 1973.
He began his coaching career in 1973 at Owen High School in Swannanoa, N.C., and was inducted into Owen’s Hall of Fame in 2010. He coached for USA Basketball teams in the 1991 World University Games, the 1992 U.S. Olympic Development Team, a U-22 tournament in Argentina in 1993 and the 2004 Olympics in Greece.
Several of his staff and players have gone on to head coaching positions, including Matt Doherty, Neil Dougherty, Jerry Green, Steve Robinson, Kevin Stallings, Mark Turgeon, Rex Walters, Wes Miller and Haase.
Williams was born on August 1, 1950. He and his wife, Wanda, a 1972 Carolina graduate, have a son, Scott, and a daughter, Kimberly. Scott earned a business degree from UNC and played point guard for the Tar Heels in 1997-98 and 1998-99. Scott and his wife, Katie (Wolford), live in Charlotte, with their sons, Aiden and Court. Katie is a 2001 Carolina graduate and former cheerleader. She earned a doctorate in physical therapy from Boston University. Kimberly, who also lives in Charlotte, is a 2002 Carolina graduate with a degree in English and was a member of the UNC dance team in 2000 and 2001.
The Williams family has contributed more than $400,000 to the Carolina Covenant, an initiative at UNC that allows low-income students to attend the University debt free. Roy and Wanda serve as honorary chairs of a $10 million campaign to endow the program. Coach Williams hosts an annual Coaches vs. Cancer breakfast that has raised more than $1 million and directs the autographed basketball program that has contributed more than $900,000 to local charities. In August 2012, Williams was honored by the American Cancer Society for his efforts in the fight against cancer.