Three former Tar Heel men’s basketball players – a Final Four Most Outstanding Player, a captain who was one of the school’s most accurate shooters ever and a captain and defensive stalwart on a national championship team – headline the staff changes made by University of North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis.
Davis, himself a Tar Heel captain in 1991-92 and 12-year NBA player, has elevated Sean May to assistant coach, brought in Jeff Lebo as an assistant coach and hired Jackie Manuel as director of player and team development. In addition, Brad Frederick will return for his ninth year on the basketball staff and fifth as assistant coach.
Eric Hoots, assistant to the athletic director for men’s basketball and now director of basketball operations, Jonas Sahratian, director of strength and conditioning, and Doug Halverson, head athletic trainer, will also remain on staff.
This will mark the first time the UNC men’s basketball head coach and all three primary assistant coaches are former Tar Heel players (it’s the second time the three assistant coaches were former UNC players with Phil Ford, Dave Hanners and Pat Sullivan serving under head coach Bill Guthridge from 1997-2000).
“I wanted a staff that went to North Carolina and played at North Carolina,” says Davis. “I think you have a great opportunity to do this job well if you’ve experienced it as a player. It’s not the only way, of course, but given there are so many former players who are coaching, it’s a great way to build my first staff as the head coach. It was important for each of the assistants to have a connection with Coach Smith, Coach Guthridge, Coach Doherty and Coach Williams. It connects each of the former head coaches’ personalities to our current team, which was a huge incentive for me in constructing this staff. Carolina Basketball is all of them and I wanted a staff that had that diversity of experiences to give the most to our players.
“Jeff, Sean, Brad and Jackie all played for one or more of them and Hoots has been on the UNC staff for 20 years. Each of the coaches and Jackie have played, coached or worked in college basketball for a long time, but they connect with today’s generation of players, as well. And that’s critically important, too.
“They’ve been part of national championships, ACC championships and the greatest rivalries in college basketball and are well positioned to recruit the type players who will thrive academically and athletically at Carolina, help us win at the highest level and hopefully go on to great things in basketball and life.
“I also want to thank Steve Robinson and Kendall Marshall, who will not be moving forward with us, for everything they have done for Carolina Basketball,” says Davis. “Coach Rob came to Chapel Hill with Coach Williams and was a huge part of every Tar Heel win and national championship over these past 18 years. I deeply appreciate everything he has done to help me grow as a coach and a person over the nine years we spent together on the staff. I didn’t get a chance to coach Kendall, who is one of our greatest point guards, but am proud that he came back to finish his degree and begin his coaching journey at Carolina. I wish Kendall and Steve nothing but great days ahead.”
Sean May spent the last six seasons on Roy Williams’ UNC staff, including the previous four as director of basketball operations. The Bloomington, Ind., native was the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player in 2005, when Carolina won the first of three NCAA championships under Williams. The 2005 first-round NBA Draft pick is one of seven Tar Heels to average a double-double – 15.8 points and 10.0 rebounds – for his career.
May scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the 2005 national championship game victory over Illinois. He was Sports Illustrated’s National Player of the Year, the ACC’s Top Male Athlete and a first-team All-America in 2005.
“The University of North Carolina means everything to me,” says May. “I played here, I won a championship here, it’s where I decided to learn the other side of basketball when I joined Coach Williams’ staff six years ago. Now I have an opportunity to do what I am passionate about, which is teach the game of basketball and help our players have what my coaches brought to me – an unbelievable experience. I am really fortunate to have an opportunity to do that at the place I love.
“Coach Davis has been a role model and mentor for me for a long time,” says May. I’m excited to go down this path with Hubert and support his vision of where Carolina Basketball goes forward. He has an unbelievable knowledge of the game, an amazing work ethic and knows how he wants the program to run. He’s played and worked here and knows what it takes to be successful.
“Playing here gives you a different perspective of what it takes to be successful at Carolina. It’s one thing to talk about family or playing for the name on the front and not the back. It’s another to have done it, to have sacrificed for the success of the team. We all can draw from our experiences on and off the court and the lessons we learned from the coaches we played for as Tar Heels.”
May and his wife, Grace, have four daughters – Layla, Lilianna, London and Luna.
Jeff Lebo is a 28-year college coaching veteran, including 20 years as a head coach at Auburn, Chattanooga, ECU and Tennessee Tech. He captained the Tar Heels in 1989, when UNC won the ACC Tournament title in an epic championship game against Duke (Davis was a freshman on that team). He scored 1,567 points, had 580 assists, shot 42.8 percent from three-point range and 83.9 percent from the free throw line. He currently is second in UNC history only to Davis in career three-point percentage, is fifth in career free throw percentage, seventh in three-point field goals (211) and 10th in assists.
The Carlisle, Pa., native won 327 games as a head coach, which included four seasons at Tennessee Tech, two at Chattanooga, six at Auburn and eight at ECU. His son, Creighton, is a rising sophomore on the UNC men’s basketball team.
“It was exciting for me to hear from Hubert when he got the job,” says Lebo. “I’m so happy for him and happy for Carolina Basketball, because other than maybe Coach Williams, we got a guy who loves Carolina as much as anyone in the whole world and is someone who is ready to take us to the next level. I played with Hubert, I’ve been coaching a long time, and the chance to come back to Chapel Hill and coach with Hubert, and have my son, Creighton, playing here as a walk-on, is a dream come true for me.
“Walking through that tunnel as a player I always felt the eyes of the former players on me every day. There is that need to carry on the torch that was left for me and set a standard for those players who come after us. Not just as a basketball player, but you wear that University of North Carolina on your jersey everywhere you go, and it will be the greatest thing not just now but for the rest of their lives.
“I love the interaction with the players and the competitiveness that coaching college basketball brings each day, whether it’s playing, coaching, winning and also recruiting,” adds Lebo. “College basketball is undergoing massive changes, but one thing I can bring to Hubert’s staff is I have been away from UNC for a while, and I can bring a different perspective on things I experienced in 20 years as a head coach.”
Lebo and his wife, Melissa, also have two daughters, Addison and Mills.
Brad Frederick has been part of collegiate coaching staffs for the past 22 seasons. He joined Williams’ staff prior to the 2013-14 season after 14 seasons on staff at Vanderbilt. He moved into an assistant coach role with the Tar Heels in 2017 and became head coach of the Tar Heel junior varsity program in 2019. While at Vanderbilt, the Commodores won an SEC Tournament title, and twice advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. Since joining the UNC staff, Carolina had its highest four-year NCAA seed run ever (three No. 1s and a No. 2 from 2016-19) and won the 2017 NCAA title.
Frederick played for head coach Dean Smith in 1996-97 and for Bill Guthridge the next two seasons in addition to working eight seasons for Williams. The Tar Heels went 86-21 in his three seasons as a player and won ACC Tournament titles and played in the Final Four in 1997 and 1998.
“I am absolutely thrilled to continue coaching at Carolina and have the opportunity to work for Coach Davis,” says Frederick. “I have had the pleasure of working beside him the last eight years and know he is going to do an amazing job leading this program. His passion for the University, this basketball program, and these players shines through every day. Being in a recruit’s home with Hubert and hearing him talk about how special Carolina is truly inspiring.
“Having been fortunate enough to play for Coach Smith and Coach Guthridge and then work for Coach Williams, I was able to see and learn from the best on a daily basis. Coach Smith was a brilliant basketball coach and his attention to every detail at practice and during games was an unbelievable learning experience for me. As important as his work on the basketball floor was, the way he ran the program and developed the Carolina family made an even bigger impression on me. Coach Williams was able to take what Coach Smith built and have an incredible amount of success, while maintaining the Carolina Way. I am motivated every day and will work tirelessly to help Coach Davis bring that same level of success and joy to our current and future Carolina teams.”
Frederick and his wife, Jocelyn, have two sons, Benjamin and Sawyer, and a daughter, Carson.
Jackie Manuel joins Davis’s staff from the UNC women’s basketball program, where he spent the 2020-21 season as Director of Player Personnel, Development and Recruiting Operations. He came back to Chapel Hill in the fall after playing professional basketball for five seasons and working as an assistant for four years at UNCG (under former Tar Heel guard Wes Miller), one year at Valparaiso and three seasons at UNCW (under longtime UNC assistant C.B.McGrath). The West Palm Beach, Fla., native also was the assistant strength and conditioning coach on Williams’ staff at Carolina in 2011-12.
Manuel was tri-captain of Williams’ first national championship team in 2004-05. That season marked second in which he earned All-ACC Defensive honors and was Carolina’s Defensive Player of the Year. He started all 37 games as a senior, when the Tar Heels went 33-4 en route to the national title. Manuel scored 785 points, had 229 assists and made 149 steals in 126 games as a Tar Heel.
“This is home, a place where I grew up and became a man,” says Manuel. “It’s an opportunity for things to come full circle for me. I always dreamt about working at UNC when I got into coaching. I love Hubert. There’s always been something about his spirit from the first time I met him many years ago when I was a player. I look up to him because of his character and as a man of faith. He represents all of the things I believe in as a leader.
“Coach Williams and Coach Doherty unlocked the potential in me by challenging me and caring for me and those things changed my life forever,” adds Manuel. “I want the opportunity to do the same for our players. We want to create a life-changing environment for our players to help them become better students, better players and someday better husbands and fathers.”
Manuel and his wife Ronda, have two daughters, Ryann and Kameron, and a son, Jordan.
Eric Hoots is a 17-year veteran of the UNC men’s basketball staff. The 2004 UNC graduate is the program’s in-office academic coordinator, coordinates team travel and equipment, is the liaison between Nike/Jordan and is the primary contact for former Tar Heel players.
“Working for Carolina Basketball has always been my dream job, and I’m grateful to Coach Williams for giving me a chance to live that reality for the past 18 years,” says Hoots. “I am thankful to Coach Davis for the opportunity to continue my work at UNC and am thrilled he will be the man leading us into the next era of Carolina basketball. Like those who coached before him, Coach Davis values the Carolina family and will run the program with integrity and a passion for the players and the university.”
Hoots and his wife, Amy, have two sons, Brady and Jackson, and a daughter, Avery.