It appears that the on-court roster won’t be the only place where things will look different for Carolina next season.
Inside Carolina reported on Wednesday that Jackie Manuel is expected to leave his current position at UNC and move into an assistant coach’s role at American University in the Patriot League.
Manuel had been at UNC in a role with the women’s team for a season before Roy Williams retired and Hubert Davis elevated to the position. When he did, Davis asked Manuel to move over to the men’s side and take on the same position. He wasn't an on-the-court coach, rather, according to UNC, he handled a ton of off-court items for the Tar Heels in a role of team and player development. He did spend this year coaching the Junior Varsity team, which is usually seen as a stepping stone for previous UNC coaches looking to rise in the ranks.
The steadying force of Manuel was best seen in his assistance with Leaky Black last season. Toward the end of the season, Black had been open about the fact that he had been dealing with some bad bouts of anxiety, and it was affecting his on court play. At one point he confided in Manuel with this issue, and together they were able to get Black to seek the help he needed in dealing with his mental health. It obviously made a difference in Leaky’s play on the court, but off the court he—and in turn Manuel-helped an untold number of people by talking about mental health the same way we talk about physical health.
Despite his success in his role of player development for both teams, the position is one that doesn’t allow him to coach on the floor, and as Manuel has been in the coaching game for a few seasons now and no spots on the UNC bench were opening up, it was clear he was ready to get back to taking an active role in on-the-court coaching. He’s going to join the staff of Duane Simpkins. Simpkins will be taking on his first Head Coaching job, and he and Manuel are reunited after working together for three seasons at UNC-Greensboro under now Cincinnati coach Wes Miller.
Carolina is now in search of a new director of team and player development. There’s no word at this time who Davis may be looking for to take the role, but based on the rest of the coaching hires—as well as the specific requirements of this job that will require a deep knowledge of just how much UNC basketball does with the university and surrounding community—expect it to be another former UNC player. The question will be which player will want to get onto the coaching staff but won’t have on-the-court coaching responsibilities.