CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Jeff Lebo will be an assistant coach on Hubert Davis’s staff at North Carolina, the school officially announced on Thursday.
“It was exciting for me to hear from Hubert when he got the job,” Lebo said in a statement. “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. 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, who was teammates with Davis for one season at UNC in 1988-89, has 20 years of head coaching experience. After eight seasons as an assistant, his first head coaching job came in 1998-99 at Tennessee Tech, where he turned the Golden Eagles’s program around in four years (75-43 record). After two years at Chattanooga (40-20), he jumped to the SEC to coach Auburn from 2004-10 (96-93) before spending eight years at East Carolina (116-122).
Lebo coached his past season at West Carteret High School in Morehead City, N.C. after spending the 2019-20 season as an assistant coach under former Tar Heel teammate Joe Wolf with the Greensboro Swarm of the NBA’s Developmental G League.
His son, Creighton, was a freshman walk-on on the Carolina basketball team this past season.
Lebo played for Dean Smith at UNC from 1985-89, starting 107 games and averaging 11.8 points and 4.4 assists during his career. He’s ranked No. 2 all-time in program history for career three-point shooting (42.8%), No. 5 in free throw percentage (83.9%), and No. 10 in total assists (580). He was a two-time All-ACC Tournament selection, a second-team all-conference selection, and received the Patterson Award as the UNC’s top student-athlete.
“Coach Smith just did it right … I loved practice – not many guys do, but it was a chance for me to watch him, listen to him in a quiet gym where he could just teach,” Lebo told Inside Carolina in a prior interview. “I wanted to soak it all up. I knew my job as a point guard was to be somewhat of a coach on the floor, so I sensed that he and I had that much more to share.”
Lebo joins Brad Frederick and Sean May as UNC bench coaches, assisting the first-time head coach who was officially hired last Tuesday. They all played at North Carolina, which Davis said at his introductory press conference last week was a prerequisite for the position.
“In terms of the staff, you can’t do this job unless you’re a Carolina guy. It’s impossible,” Davis said. “You can’t coach here, you can’t recruit here, you can’t work here unless you have been here, you’ve experienced it, you have lived it. And so in terms of the staff, it’s all guys that have experienced this place and believe in it and have the passion and the desire that all of us have for this university and this program and these kids in this community.
“One of the things that I desperately want to do in terms of a staff is I want to connect the generations. I want to have guys on staff that played for Coach Smith, I want to have guys on staff that played for Coach Guthridge, and I want to have guys on staff that played with Coach Williams. I want to be able to connect all those because I think bringing all those coaches together is what makes Carolina, Carolina. And so in assembling a staff, that is the No. 1 thing that I’m thinking about. You’ve got to be a Carolina guy. And I want an example from every one of the coaches that have meant so much to me, but has also meant so much to this program.”