|The 20th overall selection in the 1992 draft, Hubert Davis played 12 years in the NBA. (Getty Images)|
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Hubert Davis always wanted to coach but had never thought much about actually doing it, and that was the case all the way up until the morning on which he was offered a job at his alma mater.
Roy Williams called and asked Davis to drop by the office.
He said he needed a favor.
"I thought his favor was going to be asking me to change the date of my Christian basketball camp that's been held at the Smith Center the past 15 years," Davis said.
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"But I told Hubert," Williams added with a smile, "that I needed a little bigger 'favor.'"
And that's basically how Davis went from being an ESPN analyst to a North Carolina assistant -- one who spent this weekend evaluating prospects at the Nike Peach Jam. He watched games attentively, scribbled notes on pieces of paper and mostly blended in here on the Georgia-South Carolina border while adjusting to his new life that will require he spends more time teaching basketball than talking basketball. More important, it'll let Davis spend more time near his Chapel Hill home than he does on campuses away from it, and that was a crucial factor in his career-changing decision.
Yes, Davis liked his ESPN job and being on television, but he never needed that job or the ego trip that comes from seeing your own face on TV. What Davis said he needed (and wanted) was to be able to spend more time with his family while staying involved in the sport, to be able to make an impact at home and on the court. So when Williams called from North Carolina -- a place where Davis played from 1988 to 1992 and helped the Tar Heels win two ACC titles -- and presented such an opportunity after Jerod Haase left UNC to become the head coach at UAB, Davis didn't take long to consider it. He got his wife's blessing and told Williams he would join the North Carolina staff.
Suddenly, home and work were in the same zip code. It's an ideal way for a man who prioritizes things in such a way to work.
"This is a win-situation for my family," said Davis, who had been living in Chapel Hill with his wife and three children for the past eight years anyway. "I was gone five nights a week when I worked for ESPN. All anybody sees is that you get to go on television and talk, but I was going from campus to campus, gone five nights a week. I was gone a lot. But this keeps me home. I'm home a lot more now. I mean, my sons come to practice."
People who do not routinely travel for their jobs sometimes struggle to understand just how appealing staying home more often can be. Yes, working for ESPN -- or CBS Sports, I might add -- is nice, and most of us in the media wouldn't trade jobs if we could. But there's no denying that you sacrifice something along the way if only because you miss things.
Our friends think our jobs are cool because our jobs are cool.
We get paid to go to games and have opinions.
But our kids don't think on that level.
Our kids just want us in their rooms.
On the couch.
In the pool.
"Your son just wants you to play Legos with him, and I don't want to miss that anymore," Davis said. "Taking this job allows me to not miss those things as much."
Not as much.
But still some.
Because being an assistant at the high-major level does require long hours and time on the road, but it should be noted that Davis is adjusting well. I sat with him at two different events in two different cities the past two weekends, and he wasn't there merely to show his face and that Carolina Blue. He watched. He worked. He seemed focused and educated about the teams and prospects on the court in front of him, and, for what it's worth, the other coaches were treating him like one of their own, which, of course, means they poked fun at him like they constantly do each other.
"We'll know real quick whether you're any good," joked one Big East head coach. "Because if you can't get players to North Carolina, you'll be the first assistant in history who couldn't."
Davis' boss laughed at this story.
"Hubert has been fantastic," Williams said. "He's like a little colt -- just so eager to do anything. He has tremendous knowledge, he's eager to learn the college game, and kids just love him. So this really has been an incredible thing for us."