UNC has been hot on the ESPN list during the pandemic, the time for everyone to write out well-drawn out think pieces, too early NCAA rankings, and of course, where the best coaches lie. Recently, ESPN ranked Roy Williams as the best coaching hire of the last 25 years, and it's only fitting that a former player of his is listed at the top spot alongside him.
Wednesday morning, ESPN released its list of best young coaches in college basketball under 40. The qualification for the list attempts to rank coaches according to their achievements and potential who are all under the age of 40 years old.
Wes Miller is number 1 at only 37 years old.
"Three years after playing on a North Carolina team that captured the 2005 national title, Miller started his coaching career as an assistant at Elon in his mid-20s, and the No. 1 coach on our list hasn't looked back. After accepting the head-coaching job at UNC Greensboro as a 27-year-old, Miller emerged as one of the top young coaches in college basketball. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Miller has amassed 104 wins in a stretch that includes the program's first NCAA tournament appearance in 17 years (2018)." -Myron Medcalf, ESPN
Wes Miller, a recruit from Charlotte NC, played for the North Carolina Tar Heels from 2004-2007. Noted as the hardest working player Williams has ever coached, Miller is apart of the 2005 National Champion team that earned the first of three of Williams' championship banners. Miller was a walk-on for Carolina; he transferred to the university following one year at James Madison. Following the championship year, he started at the two and was the team's best defender and three-point shooter.
After his graduation in 2007, Miller wasted no time finding his passion for coaching and landed a position as an assistant coach at Elon. For the next two years, Miller coached at one new school, High Point University, before landing at UNC-Greensboro. Upon his entrance, Miller spent the 2010-2011 season as the assistant coach soon after head coach Mike Dement resigned, and Miller became interim coach. Once he took over, the job was his.
In 2012, UNC-G announced Miller as the full-time head coach in which he wasted zero time bringing alongside a former teammate, Jackie Manuel, as his assistant coach. In 2018, Miller became the winningest coach in UNC-Greensboro history, with 125 victories, passing his former coach and mentor Mike Dement. Miller's current record at UNC-Greensboro stands at 164-126 overall.
UNC-G knows that their prolific head coach won't be theirs for too much longer. Recently, Miller's name was thrown in the ring for the Wake Forest head coach candidacy, but former East Tennessee State head coach Steve Forbes was ultimately hired for the job. Forbes has a prior relationship with the athletic director John Currie which gave him the edge. Despite a decline from Wake Forest, most have him tapped for the replacement of Williams. Williams, who is 70 years old, has about five years left on his current contract; whether he decides to continue beyond that time frame is unknown. Williams is known for saying that as long as his health and family are excellent, he will continue as the head coach of Carolina.
Whether or not he's the replacement or goes elsewhere, ESPN recognizing Williams and his growing coaching tree shows the reach and potential of being more than just a player.
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