Williams ‘speechless’ at Hall of Fame selection
By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL — Roy Williams braced for disappointment, so certain the Basketball Hall of Fame would deny him entry that he had his rejection speech ready.
But when told that he was selected as a Hall of Famer, the North Carolina coach didn’t know what to say.
Williams is one of a class of seven to enter the Hall of Fame in September. An Asheville native and protege of former North Carolina coach and Hall of Famer Dean Smith, Williams played for the Tar Heels and assisted Smith. Williams coached at Kansas from 1998-2003 and returned to his alma mater. In a few months he’ll be enshrined along with his idol.
Williams, who has coached in five Final Fours, is one of only three coaches to lead two schools to the national championship game and is the fastest Division I coach to reach 500 wins. He is a combined 524-131 in 19 seasons at Kansas and North Carolina, has reached 18 straight NCAA tournaments and has won at least one game in each.
Williams knew he wanted to be a coach since his freshman year at T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville.
But he didn’t know he could be a good coach until shortly after he arrived at Kansas, when the Jayhawks were placed on probation for violations that took place before he got there.
Williams joked that if he had to pick one program to represent in the Hall of Fame, he would create a hybrid ‘‘TarHawk’’ to honor both Kansas and North Carolina. And he vowed that his latest honor wouldn’t lead to feelings of laziness or complacency — especially because he’s still stung by the Tar Heels’ late-game collapse to Georgetown in the Elite Eight, when they blew an 11-point second half lead and were routed in overtime.