A formal announcement or official Tweet has not come out yet, but reports of a new hire to Hubert Davis’s staff are circulating. True to his word that hires would come from the Carolina Family, Davis has found the perfect match to prepare current Tar Heels for the NBA. Pat Sullivan (UNC Class of 1995) comes to Chapel Hill from Minneapolis where he performed player development for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Pat Sullivan, who is in a player development role with the Minnesota Timberwolves, will return to his alma mater and join Hubert Davis’ staff at North Carolina, source told @stadium. Sullivan isn’t expected to be on road recruiting, but UNC has flip-flopped assistants in past.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) April 27, 2021
Sullivan may not be in the pantheon of familiar (and more famous) names from the past like Eric Montross, Vince Carter, or Tyler Hansbrough. But for those who watched the 1993 National Championship game against Michigan’s Fab Five - either in real-time, or on ESPN Classic - Sullivan stands out, as he was on the free throw line with a chance to ice the game. Instead, an amazing calamity occurred, one that will live on in Tar Heel folklore (and late night Franklin Street snacking) forever:
Barring an official announcement with an explanation of his role, there’s a wide range of tasks he can perform. Sullivan has done it all in his basketball career. He worked as a film coordinator for Dean Smith before being promoted to the bench under Bill Guthridge. Art Chansky noted that Matt Doherty’s new book cites his decision to not retain any of Guthridge’s assistants when he took the job was one of three crucial mistakes he made in the summer of 2000.
Surplus to requirements in Chapel Hill, Pat Sullivan began a fascinating vagabond career in hoops. He worked as an assistant for the UNC-Wilmington women’s team before settling into the NBA circuit with stops in Detroit (twice), New Jersey, Washington, Los Angeles (Clippers), New York, and Minnesota before being recalled by Hubert Davis.
Sullivan has an NCAA championship ring from the 1993 UNC team, and an NBA championship ring from the 2003-04 season with Detroit when the Pistons dominated the Kobe/Shaq-led Lakers, 4-1. It will be interesting to see if Sullivan helps current Carolina players develop individual skills more suited to the modern NBA game.
From his recruiting, Coach Davis certainly seems keen to see better shooting and spacing. How well the players can shoot and defend in space will go a long way in determining how successful Carolina basketball can be in Coach Davis’s inaugural season.