Past player, former Jayhawk manager discuss retiring HOF coach Roy Williams’ impact

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Hall-of-Fame college basketball coach Roy Williams announced his retirement Thursday, a decision that came as a shock to many.

In 33 seasons, Williams coached at the University of Kansas for 15 and at the University of North Carolina for 18. He won three national championships and had several other teams that were good enough to add to that total. Numerous future NBA players became household names being coached by Williams. He left an impact on many others, including a past player from Wichita and a former student manager who recently concluded his 10th season as the head boys basketball coach at Derby High School.

In 15 years coaching at KU, Williams took the Jayhawks to 14 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and nine conference titles. Coach Williams went on to coach the Tarheels where he won his three national championships. What he did for KU is described by many as “special.” Among those impacted by Williams was Steve Woodberry who played for Williams in his early years at KU and in recent years, coached against his mentor as an assistant at Wake Forest University in the Athletic Coast Conference.

“College basketball is going to miss him because to me, he’s one of the few guys where relationships mean something,” Woodberry said.

Woodberry, who played for Williams from 1990-1994, a stretch that included two Final Four runs, said his coaching style reflects that of his college coach.

“He would get on players, but at the end of everything, he would get on you, but he’d always build you back up,” Woodberry said. “So it was always something positive at the end of it. So I loved that about him. And the way that he approached every day and how he was there to make a difference in everyone’s lives.”

Derby High School boys basketball coach was a student manager at KU in the late 1990s.

“He cam to KU when I was in third grade. I grew up in Lawrence and from the time from third grade on, he’s basically been my hero,” Flory said.

Flory said he was grateful to be in the student manager position.

“I just saw Coach built a basketball family, how he impacted kids and made everyone around him better,” Flory said.

The Derby coach said he uses what he learned from Williams every day.

“Being someone that is a positive influence in kids’ lives. Coach Williams was not just a good man, but a great man to so many people,” Flory said. “And a great example to so many people. So if I can do a fraction of what he did, I’ll accomplish a lot.”

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