Since Courtney Banghart’s hiring as North Carolina Tar Heels women’s basketball coach, the program has seemingly seen a uptick.
Last season on the court, they’re were seen as a solidly in NCAA Tournament team until injuries derailed them and led to a losing streak before the tournament got cancelled anyway. Off that court, Banghart has been killing it in recruiting, landing two five-star prospects in the class of 2020 and has another three more committed for the class of 2021.
Her and the program’s next move has been to add a familiar face to the coaching staff. On Wednesday, it was announced that Tar Heel and 2005 men’s basketball national champion Jackie Manuel has been hired as UNC’s newest women’s basketball assistant.
Manuel played at UNC from 2001 to 2005, starting 85 games over the course of his career, and every one in the 2004-05 title season, during which he was a team captain. He averaged 6.2 points over the course of his career, but he was more known for his work at the other end of the court. Manuel was a two-time member of the ACC all-defense team, including in the ‘05 title season, while also being named UNC’s defensive player of the year in ‘04 and ‘05.
He continued his playing career in the D-League and overseas in Japan until 2011 before jumping into the coaching realm.
Manuel began his coaching journey with the UNC men’s team as an assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2011. After that, he became an assistant for former teammate Wes Miller at UNC Greensboro from 2012 to 2016. He also had a one year stop at Valparaiso and then most recently at UNC Wilmington, where he was on C.B. McGrath’s staff until this past season.
In the official statement put out by the school, Banghart said of Manuel:
Jackie brings experience, competitiveness, talent, passion, selflessness, and positive enthusiasm to his return to Chapel Hill. His experience playing the game at the highest level, his genuine love for Carolina, his desire to serve this program, and his experience as a collegiate coach will fit in perfectly with our already talented staff.
Roy Williams also had glowing words for his former player, saying:
Courtney Banghart is getting a person of the highest quality who loves the game of basketball and enjoys learning all aspects of running a program. He will do a tremendous job, just as he did as a player and captain of our national championship team and in his previous stops as an assistant coach. He knows what it takes to build a championship team and will help Coach Banghart and her staff as they work towards that ultimate goal.
It’s always good to see a Tar Heel stick around the university in some capacity. It’s especially cool to see one helping out for a team and a coach he never played for. Hopefully, Manuel can help return the UNC women’s basketball team to Final Four and national championship contention, where it should be.