C.B. McGrath brings championship experience to UNCW

Following in Kevin Keatts footsteps, former UNC assistant took a similar path before taking his first head coaching job with the Seahawks

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
North Carolina assistant coach C.B. McGrath

On Monday night in Phoenix, several North Carolina players cut down the nets after winning the national championship knowing it would be the last time they would don a Carolina blue jersey and play under Roy Williams.For C.B. McGrath, the feeling was the same. The only difference? McGrath played for Williams for four years before immediately moving into an assistant coaching role with him at Kansas. Making the move with Williams to UNC, McGrath spent a total of 18 seasons as his assistant — 22 total under Roy.So to say the timing was perfect for McGrath after winning his third national title under Williams would be an understatement.”I couldn’t have scripted it better,” McGrath said. “In the last game I coached at Carolina as an assistant I go out with a win, a national championship. It does not get much better. I would not leave for many jobs, but this is one I have always wanted for a long time.”Wilmington is a great place. It’s a great place for the family and the community, a great university. Basketball program is really good, too, so it’s a perfect situation.”McGrath followed a similar path to his predecessor Kevin Keatts, but with far less movement.Keatts coached for years at Hargrave Military Academy as an assistant and head coach with a stop at Marshall before heading to Louisville for three years. Prior to taking the position at UNCW, Keatts had five total seasons of coaching experience in the college ranks.As for McGrath, the longtime assistant of Williams only knows about coaching at the collegiate level. All 18 years were alongside Williams, helping build three national championship teams and bringing in myriad McDonald’s All-Americans.Finding someone who had a healthy resume of experience at the top level of the sport was crucial for Athletics Director Jimmy Bass.”We conducted a thorough search for someone who would continue the successful style and championship culture that we have instilled here,” Bass said. “C.B. has worked alongside one of the nation’s top head coaches in Roy Williams. He is a tireless recruiter and excellent game tactician. Everyone in Seahawk Nation will enjoy getting to know him, and we’re very pleased to welcome C.B. and his family to Wilmington.”McGrath’s history as an assistant in UNC’s system also bodes well for the transition the Seahawks are about to undergo. Keatts brought a high-tempo offense that spread the ball with high efficiency and a press defense that pressured the opposition.In the last nearly two decades with the Tar Heels, McGrath witnessed several of the best fast-break teams under Williams’ secondary break options he deploys. That system requires athletic guards like C.J. Bryce along with powerful big men like Devontae Cacok.While McGrath will likely have both of those players back, pending the possibility of a transfer, he won’t have two top shooters from last season in Denzel Ingram and Chris Flemmings. But with a solid core in his first year at UNCW, he couldn’t have asked for a better situation to start his head coaching career.”UNCW has always been a dream job for me,” McGrath said. “I’ve been following the program for some time. It’s on the upswing, and we want move it forward from there. I’m looking forward to the challenge and using what was accomplished the past two years as a springboard for the future.”What was accomplished the past two (three?) years was the rapid ascension of a Seahawks program that had not seen success in nearly a decade. Coming off a record-setting season, McGrath has all the tools in place and the experience to keep UNCW on top of the CAA for years to come.