Bittersweet McGrath ready for the next chapter at UNCW

UNC players and coaches say theyll miss long-time assistant C.B. McGrath, who is about to be named the next coach at UNCW,, But they added that hes ready to take on the challenge of having a team of his own

Robert Deutsch—USA Today Sports
UNC's Roy Williams (left) and UNCW's C.B. McGrath worked together from 2003 through last season's national championship game (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

UNC players and coaches say they’ll miss long-time assistant C.B. McGrath, who is about to be named the next coach at UNCW,, But they added that he’s ready to take on the challenge of having a team of his ownPHOENIX — Amid the buzz of excitement in North Carolina’s locker room at University of Phoenix Stadium after the Tar Heels’ national championship victory against Gonzaga on Monday, C.B. McGrath stood off to the side, isolated by himself.It was if the long-time UNC assistant was somehow detached from the celebration, even though he’d had as much to do with the team’s success as anyone in the program.Earlier in the day he’d officially been confirmed as the next head basketball coach at UNC Wilmington, an occurrence that when combined with the events on the floor in Phoenix, left him both happy and sad as he reached a significant crossroads in his professional career.”It’s the best way I could have ever dreamed about going out,” McGrath said. “The only time I’ll think of North Carolina basketball from here on out is the 2017 national championship. I’m so happy, but I am ready for the next chapter.”Even before the new was confirmed, McGrath’s now-former players and coaches with the Tar Heels said they’re convinced he has what it takes to succeed as a head coach at the highest level of college basketball.”He’s extremely intelligent, very organized, has a passion for the game, has a desire to put teams together and make sacrifices toward a common goal,” McGrath’s current boss Roy Williams said. “He loves working with young people, does see the big picture all the time. He has every skill you’d like a prospective coach to have.”McGrath is in his 14th season at UNC, having come over from Kansas along with Williams in 2003. A former walk-on under Williams with the Jayhawks, McGrath went on to earn a scholarship and become his team’s captain as a senior in 1997-98.Although the UNCW job would be his first as a head coach, aside from his work leading UNC’s junior varsity team, fellow assistant Hubert Davis said that the 41-year-old Indianapolis native has been groomed to eventually make this next career move.”He’s an incredible coach,” Davis said. “He’s organized, he’s a great motivator, his preparation and effort [are] absolutely fantastic. His knowledge of the game, the Xs and Os are fantastic, too. He is an outstanding coach. He is a head coach that has been an assistant coach here.”In addition to being a trusted recruiter, his responsibilities with the Tar Heels include preparing scouting reports for future opponents. Known for his sense of humor and easygoing demeanor, McGrath is a popular member of the UNC staff among the players.”I love C.B.,” reserve point guard and Wilmington native Stilman White said. “He’s honestly one of the five funniest guys I know. He’s so personable. Every single person on the team loves C.B.”Senior guard Nate Britt speculated that McGrath’s new players will take to him quickly, too, though he wondered how much the popular assistant will be once he becomes the man in charge.”It will be different, because as an assistant there’s not as much pressure on him and I’m sure he has a different role here than he’ll have with him being a head coach,” Britt said. “I don’t know if he’ll be a lot more strict on the guys, because right now he’s the guy who through all our practices that can keep a smile on all the players’ faces.”He’s the good cop for sure. I’ll definitely want to see how that changes when he’s at UNCW.”