Next UNC assistant will have Tar Heel ties

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Considering how busy North Carolina coach Roy Williams has been the past few weeks -- contacting 25 NBA teams as his players pondered going pro, having three underclassmen ultimately declare early for the NBA draft, helping four of his players hire agents -- he hasn’t had time to start interviewing candidates for his vacant assistant coaching position.

But when he does make a hire, he said, it will be a person with UNC ties.

“I’ve had three guys from Kansas call me and apply, and I told them, ‘I love you, but I can’t do that. I came here, I brought two Kansas players with me, so the next guy has got to be a North Carolina guy,'" Williams said Tuesday night during the Rams Club’s Tar Heel Tour event in the Triangle. “We’ve had some pretty impressive people that I’ve talked to.”

Williams said 14 former Tar Heels players have shown interest in the job, which was vacated when Jerod Haase (one of those former Jayhawks who came to Chapel Hill with Williams from Kansas in 2003) left to become head coach at UAB earlier this month.

Before speaking to roughly 400 fans at the event, Williams said he couldn’t remember the last time he had interviewed anybody, because his assistant coaching staff had remained intact through all nine of his seasons as head coach at UNC.

“This weekend is a recruiting period, and then next weekend is a recruiting period. And then after that, I’m really going to focus on replacing Jerod," he said. “Right now, I’m thinking about it, I’m talking to some people, and needless to say, we’ve had some very good North Carolina people that have contacted me about it, but it’s just not a priority right now.”

Williams said Joe Holladay, who was Williams’ longtime assistant who slid over to become director of basketball operations three seasons ago, will take over Haase’s recruiting duties for the next two weekends. After that, he’ll get down to the nitty-gritty of finding a new assistant coach.

“I’ve never hired somebody that I didn’t personally know by either working with them or working with somebody that I knew -- with the exception of Steve Robinson [who has served as a member of Williams’ coaching staff for 17 seasons]. And that’s been great."

He added: “It’ll be somebody with a North Carolina background.”

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.