Roy Williams Rumors
Eighteen years after spurning his North Carolina commitment to go pro, retired NBA Champion J.R. Smith is set to reunite with Roy Williams on the golf course. The duo have tentatively scheduled a round for next week. Smith has been in the news recently for enrolling at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, N.C. and then walking on to the Aggies’ golf team this fall.
In that famed summer of 1980, while Pinckney, Ewing and Mullin previewed their future dominance in the Big East down in Honesdale, a scrawny unknown kid with a forgettable name had coaches in Pittsburgh asking the same question over and over: Who the hell is Mike Jordan? While his peers scrambled, Roy Williams positioned himself at each of Jordan’s stations, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Weeks earlier, Williams, then just a second-year assistant to Dean Smith, spied Jordan at North Carolina’s own camp, mesmerized not just by the player’s obvious skill but his commitment. He wasn’t entirely an unknown commodity. Bill Guthridge watched him in a high school game earlier but wasn’t quite sure about him. He’d only shot jump shots that night, and so Guthridge couldn’t vouch for Jordan’s athleticism. The staff decided to extend an invite to their summer camp, so they could evaluate him a little more and get an early inside track.
At the Carolina camp, Williams worked at Carmichael Gym, where players would come in groups of 20 in the afternoon for 30-minute runs of pickup. Jordan not only asked to stay an extra session, but after hoofing it the mile or so back to the Granville Tower dorms once his extra time ended, he walked all the way back in the Carolina heat to play again. That night Williams and fellow assistant Eddie Fogler sat around talking about players they liked that day. “I’ll never forget this,’’ Williams says. “I looked at Eddie and said, ‘I just saw the best 6-4 player I’ve ever seen.’’’ Fogler thought Williams was crazy. Jordan’s name didn’t appear anywhere on Street & Smith’s top 650 players. Fogler watched Jordan for himself the next day, as did Smith. “From then on, Coach Smith had breakfast or lunch with Michael every day,’’ Williams says with a laugh. When camp ended, Williams asked Jordan’s high school coach, Clifton Herring, about Jordan’s summer plans.
That summer in Pittsburgh, Brendan Malone, then a Syracuse assistant who would go on to be an NBA head coach, had to rush home after his wife was involved in a moped accident. He entrusted his pick to Konchalski, telling him to take Aubrey Sherrod, the stud guard out of Kansas. Instead after watching the games, he selected Jordan. “Who the f— is Mike Jordan?” Malone exploded, upon returning to camp to see his team. “By the end of the week they handed out five individual awards,’’ Williams says. “He got all five of them.’’
Rob Schaefer: Coby White said it was a shock to hear news of Roy Williams’ retirement. Happy for him but sad at same time. Added Williams called after his presser yesterday — just to check after he didn’t see White in Bulls’ box score last two games. They talked for about 20 mins.