It was so small — barely the size of a quarter. And subtle, too. So subtle that, were you not attuned to a certain suit’s left lapel, you easily could’ve missed it.
But why, after all, would you have fixated on any suit in the first place? Dozens of former North Carolina players, reporters, administrators and family members did not gather Tuesday in the Dean Smith Center to stare at some suit. Heck no. They came to see the man wearing it — the man who, as of this week, is the face of the UNC men’s basketball program. For now, and, they hope, for years to come.
As Hubert Davis spoke, though — one day after being officially hired to succeed Roy Williams, who retired last week — it was impossible not to train one’s eyes to the pin posted on Davis’ chest. (And that’s saying something, given Davis’ million-watt, ESPN-trained smile.) The pin was dark blue, with thin Carolina blue lettering. And fittingly, it was circular, just like Davis’ path back to this point:
DES, it read.
Dean Edwards Smith
If the pin — from Smith’s funeral in 2015, given exclusively to the people closest to the program — wasn’t a dead giveaway of Smith’s importance in Davis’ life, it should’ve been. Davis speaks of Williams, who plucked him off ESPN’s set nine years ago — without any coaching experience, but without hesitation — in the same rarefied air as Smith, but Smith was the original. The one who brought him to Chapel Hill, back as a teenager in 1988. The one who empowered him, who pushed him to push himself. The one who, in giving him a scholarship, gave him a gateway to the rest of his life.