July 1, 2003 When I was a youngster, I dreamed of playing at North Carolina. Then I dreamed of coaching at North Carolina. You may not believe this, but I never dreamed of being a head coach at North Carolina. I always dreamed of being Coach Smith's assistant.
North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams
I felt now, as I did (in 2000), that Roy was the best fit for the job. Not to make the call to him would've been a major mistake.
North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour
This is as good as it gets in a person. There's nothing deceptive about him. He is what he is a wonderful person and a great coach. If you watch his teams, you know they've been coached. If you go to his practices, you know why his teams are successful. His players play the right way. They're team-oriented. They play a fun way offensively. They're aggressive. He changes defenses. He does it all. He's just a wonderful coach.
Veteran NBA administrator Jerry West
At least from my perspective, he was the only choice for (UNC). He's the guy who's the best fit for the job at this time because of his experience, his understanding, his roots, his ability to coach and recruit. We feel very strongly that he's the guy to put us back where we had been for such a long time, and that's at or near the top. I know it will be a short time before we're there again. I don't know what would have happened if he had said no.
Former North Carolina player Jeff Lebo
Coach Williams runs the consummate program. It's a complete program where no stone is left unturned. His goal is to help you individually, and in turn have that help the team. He's so attentive to detail and with every part of your progress on and off the court. It was a family atmosphere (at Kansas). It was truly something special.
North Carolina assistant coach Jerod Haase
I still think he's too good to be true, and I've been around him for nine years. It's not an act.
North Carolina administrative assistant C.B. McGrath
I wouldn't give a million dollars to be in Syracuse's locker room (after the national championship game). They have a ring, but I wouldn't trade places with them. I played for the best man in college basketball.
Former Kansas guard Kirk Hinrich
The one thing that stuck with me about Coach and still does is his passion to do things the right way, whether it's morally or ethically, and his passion for winning. I've been a pro athlete for six years, and I'd turn back some of my salary if I could have another chance at it. One of the biggest reasons is I'd want to win for Coach. We played for each other, but we also played for him. I still love having lunch with him. I love having him call me during the season. It's real. There's nothing phony.
Former Kansas guard Jacque Vaughn
Under Williams, things will look very much the way they did when (Dean) Smith and (Bill) Guthridge were in charge at Chapel Hill. Players will work hard until they tire, then give the fist and come out. Players will support each other, or they will not be there for long. There will be no squabbling, especially in public. Carolina will be a tighter family unit again, and the loyalty, devotion and sense of obligation to the program that is so envied will be readily apparent from everyone in Carolina Blue. ...
I believe that Williams' anguish over having to leave Kansas and the players he recruited is genuine. He truly does feel badly for having to leave the Jayhawk program. However, I also believe that he felt worse over the last three years for having bitterly disappointed Smith and Guthridge, and having put (Matt) Doherty in such an untenable situation because Williams said no to Carolina the first time and couldn't pull the trigger on the job he had dreamed about for so long. Williams will probably never get over leaving Kansas, but he would have never gotten over saying no to Carolina, either. Williams has dreamed of this job, and now Carolina is dreaming of championships again. Expect those dreams to come true soon.
Columnist Jay Bilas, on ESPN.com
Williams was an obscure UNC assistant when Kansas hired him, mostly on (Dean) Smith's recommendation. His basketball career at UNC had lasted one year. He played on a freshman team that included Dennis Wuycik, Steve Previs, Kim Huband and Craig Corson, all of whom went on to play big roles for Smith in three varsity seasons. Bill Guthridge was the freshman team's coach in fall 1968. Williams was easy to spot in practice because he was the player always on the floor after drawing a charge.
When Williams turned to coaching, he kept detailed statistics for Smith and helped run UNC's summer camps. His salary was so low slightly under $8,300 when he joined Smith's staff that he sold calendars and drove the tapes of Smith's television shows 400 miles every Sunday to Wilmington and Charlotte and Asheville to make extra money. He got up before dawn and got home after dark. Williams and his wife, Wanda, got by, Guthridge remembered, but just barely. Now Williams says he makes more money than he thought it was possible to print.
Reporter Bill Cole, in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal
The truth is Roy Williams always preached that coaching at Kansas was far more than a job. He asked players and fans to emotionally invest in the Kansas basketball family. You can change jobs with very little pain. You can't desert your family without creating a lot of pain. Dean Smith should know that better than anybody. He should've respected the basketball family that Williams built at Kansas and counseled his coaching pupil to stay with his new family. But Smith's ego wouldn't allow that. It wouldn't allow Roy to build a family that rivaled Dean's.
KU players accepted Williams' invitation to view him as a father figure. Now those players will be denied enjoying the kind of relationship Williams has enjoyed with his Carolina basketball father for all of these years. All because Dean Smith wants North Carolina to be a slave to his legacy. Williams, a good man caught in a horrible situation, will regret this decision for the rest of his life. Even several UNC national titles under his guidance won't ease this pain.
Columnist Jason Whitlock, in the Kansas City (Kan.) Star
Before he left the fieldhouse for the last time as KU's coach, Williams made a surprise return visit to where the media camped out waiting for the players to emerge from a meeting with Chancellor Robert Hemenway. Williams could have slipped away, because he had parked right next to the closest entrance to his office in Parrott Complex. Instead, he took a circuitous route and thanked the media, telling them to turn off their recorders and cameras, that he just wanted to thank them, that's all. He didn't have to do that. But he did. And he did because he is, well because he's Roy Williams.
Columnist Chuck Woodling, in the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World
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