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McDonald's Nuggets: Did UNC, Indiana make the right hires?

Mike Woodson
Mike Woodson (USA Today)

In this week’s edition of McDonald’s Nuggets, Dan McDonald discusses the hires of Mike Woodson (Indiana) and Hubert Davis (North Carolina). Plus, he names his Transfer of the Week and his 2021 and 2022 Commits of the Week.


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WHAT’S ON MY MIND: Thoughts on hires at Indiana and North Carolina

Hubert Davis
Hubert Davis (AP Images)

Indiana and North Carolina are two of the top jobs in college basketball and have been for as long as anyone can remember. When those jobs open, it typically means many of the top coaches around the country could be had if the price is right.

Generally speaking, I’m a firm believer that schools like Indiana and North Carolina should swing for the fences with these types of hires. That means calling guys like Scott Drew, Chris Holtmann, Jay Wright, Nate Oats or anyone else who has experienced a high-level success and is trending upward in their career. And maybe both schools did just that and then decided going with a hire in the family made the most sense right now.

Let’s look both of these situations individually. It’s pretty rare in college basketball for an assistant coach to get his first shot at being a head coach at a blueblood like North Carolina, but that’s what the Tar Heels chose to do. It means there will be some level of continuity in the program, and Hubert Davis gives them a chance at potentially bringing back Walker Kessler due to the relationship they built. Davis has developed a reputation as being a great recruiter and strong in player development. It remains to be seen if he’ll change up the style of play in Chapel Hill or what he’ll do with his staff. There isn’t really a great precedent for this type of hire in basketball, but if you look to recent hires in football, Ryan Day, Dabo Swinney and Lincoln Riley all were promoted from being assistants and hit the ground running.

At Indiana, it’s a different situation. Mike Woodson isn’t replacing a legend like Roy Williams, who has three national titles. He’s following the disappointing tenure of Archie Miller. It’s been 25 years since Indiana has been a consistently strong program on yearly basis, but there is a fan base in Bloomington that dreams of getting back to the level of glory days under Bobby Knight, who Woodson played for. Woodson has spent his entire coaching career in the NBA, but he obviously has a strong understanding of the Indiana job. He did a terrific job with a young Atlanta Hawks group in his six years on the job and by all accounts has the right energy and work ethic to become a really good recruiter. Xavier Johnson’s decision to transfer to Indiana backs that up.

As much as I respect athletic directors swinging for the fences with a hire, I also respect thinking outside the box with a hire like Woodson and taking a chance on a guy you know really well and trust like Davis. Both will get their first chance at a head coaching job in college in the pressure cooker of an elite program, but I’m optimistic both can work.




TRANSFER OF THE WEEK: Justin Powell to Tennessee

Powell only played 10 games as a freshman this season at Auburn, but he made a huge impact for the Tigers in that time. Spending time playing both point guard and off the ball, the 6-foot-6 guard averaged 11.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game and proved to be a lethal threat from three-point range, hitting at just under 45%. He could potentially play four years at Tennessee starting this upcoming season and be the type of player Rick Barnes can lean on from day one.



2021 COMMIT OF THE WEEK: Jaylon Tyson to Texas

Texas loses a lot of fire power on the perimeter to graduation this year and need some perimeter scoring to come in and replace that production. It didn’t take long for Chris Beard to address that with the addition of Jaylon Tyson, who follows him from Texas Tech, where he signed in November. The No. 31 overall prospect is one of the top shooters in the class at 6-foot-6.



2022 COMMITS OF THE WEEK: Lee Dort and Noah Shelby to Vanderbilt

Jerry Stackhouse is getting his work done early in the 2022 class. Already with a commitment from point guard Presley Patterson, the Commodores scored two significant additions on Wednesday night with four-star center Lee Dort and three-star guard Noah Shelby out of Texas both hopping on board. Dort is a dominant force in the paint at 6-foot-10 that can score on the block, while Shelby brings the perimeter scoring to the table with his lethal three-point stroke. Both considered schools from coast-to-coast before settling on Vanderbilt.