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Longtime UNC assistant C.B. McGrath leaves for UNC-Wilmington after one final scouting report

UNC assistant C.B. McGrath is in the background of Justin Jackson’s late dunk on Monday night, just as McGrath has been behind the scenes of much of the Tar Heels’ success the past 14 years.
UNC assistant C.B. McGrath is in the background of Justin Jackson’s late dunk on Monday night, just as McGrath has been behind the scenes of much of the Tar Heels’ success the past 14 years. ehyman@newsobserver.com

The final scouting report that C.B. McGrath put together at the North Carolina was the one the Tar Heels used on Monday night. It was the one that helped them win their sixth NCAA tournament championship.

He kept thinking about that “the whole time” he wrote that report, McGrath said – that this the final time he’d do such a thing as a member of Roy Williams’ staff at UNC. McGrath has been a part of that staff for as long as Williams has been UNC’s head coach – 14 seasons. Overall, he worked under Williams for 18 years.

And now McGrath, who played for Williams at Kansas, is leaving. McGrath on Thursday will formally be introduced as the head coach at UNC-Wilmington, which hired him to replace Kevin Keatts when Keatts left to become the head coach at N.C. State.

And so goes the circle of life for a college basketball coach. One coach leaves. A job opens. Someone arrives from somewhere else. And on it goes. McGrath has had to wait for a while for this opportunity. He’d become a fixture on the UNC bench, one of Williams’ right hands.

During the first national semifinal on Saturday night, McGrath sat next to Steve Robinson, another one of Williams’ longtime assistants. They watched Gonzaga hang on against South Carolina. If the Gamecocks had won, Robinson would have had the scouting report. McGrath had Gonzaga.

Putting together scouting reports can be labor intensive. There’s the hours of film study, the evaluations of the other team’s tendencies and personnel. It can be grunt work, at times, but it is some of the most important work any coaching staff does.

And now, eventually, McGrath will have a staff of his own assistants to handle such tasks. The reality that this was his final game on the bench at UNC began to set in on Monday night, inside the Tar Heels locker room. Fourteen years a UNC assistant, and now McGrath had reached the end.

“My last scout as an assistant,” he said, before adding a touch of his dry humor. “Well, I guess unless I lose my job and have to go back and work as an assistant. I was thinking the whole time, ‘This will be my last scouting report.’ 

It was the scouting report that helped the Tar Heels win a national championship.

Andrew Carter: 919-829-8944, @_andrewcarter

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