by Sean May
I had just finished my freshman season at North Carolina when Roy Williams was announced as the new basketball coach. My reaction was immediate: I was petrified. What most people didn't know about my recruitment was that Coach Williams was the last coach I talked to before I made my decision. At that time, he was the head coach at Kansas. Because my dad played for Coach Knight at Indiana, some schools had assumed I would automatically attend Indiana. But word was starting to get out that since Coach Knight had left IU, I was open to other schools.
Coach Williams called me and said Kansas had been watching me and they would like to recruit me. It was late in the recruiting process, and I told him I felt that would be unfair to the other schools that had been recruiting me for so long.
When he was hired at Carolina, that was all I could think about. I was convinced he wasn't going to play me and would be mad that I hadn't been interested in Kansas. The truth is that he probably doesn't even remember that phone conversation.
In reality, maybe I was worried about two things: that phone call and the running. I wasn't worried about his coaching style. I knew I could play for any coach. But I was so nervous about the amount of running he was going to make us do, because I knew I couldn't keep up.
Now I can't imagine my life without having played for Coach Williams. When I was a player, I wasn't sure I wanted to be a coach. It's been a tremendous opportunity to start from the ground up with Coach Williams, because it's enabled me to see every aspect of the program. Most players – me included – don't realize everything that the coaches do. Since I've been on staff at Carolina, I've seen another side of it, from the academic details to making the practice plan to coordinating travel for players at Christmas break. Making the entire program work is about so much more than just playing a certain defense or running a certain play.
It's also been incredible to watch a Hall of Fame coach work. As a player, what pushed me so hard was his attention to detail. He saw absolutely everything that happened on the court. It didn't matter if he was talking to the trainer about another player and facing away from the court, you could miss a box-out and he would know it immediately.
As a member of the staff, I've seen that the attention to detail goes beyond just what happens on the court in games. I never realized how much he loves practice. He loves the drills, he loves working on time and score situations, he loves every single part of it. And if we're not on the court for a game or practice, he's trying to figure out how he can get on a plane to go recruit a kid.
Coach Williams truly loves Carolina Basketball and the University of North Carolina. He protects it like it's one of his kids. And it's been a great opportunity for me to be part of his staff. When you're around brilliant people, it brings out the best in you. And I've been able to work with one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game.
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