Rising through the ranks to an important position can still be achieved, as Eric Hoots can attest.
Hoots, the Assistant to the Athletic Director for Men’s Basketball and Director of Player Development for the UNC men’s basketball team, served as the Tar Heels varsity manager a decade ago (when he roomed with now-UNCG-coach Wes Miller).
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
There’s plenty right with it, in fact, as Hoots used that valuable experience to become a master multi-tasker who now keeps up with the players’ academics and their apparel and equipment needs while also managing the team’s budget.
“In being here from former coaches Matt Doherty and Bill Guthridge and on to Roy Williams, Eric is the glue that holds Carolina basketball together,” said Steve Kirschner, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communications, who also oversees media relations and communication for the Tar Heel men’s basketball program. “He loves the university and Carolina basketball.”
Hoots is as humble as he is hard-working, crediting Academic Counselor for the men’s basketball team Jennifer Townsend for her efforts. She has helped calm the waves of controversy regarding some student athletes that crashed over the university in recent years.
“We have a great academic advisor in Jennifer, and we work to be as aware as possible about their attendance, grades and upcoming tests,” Hoots said. “Fortunately this is a great group of guys on and off the basketball court.”
Oh, and he also chips in with on-campus recruiting while remaining in continual contact with ex-Tar Heels who are playing in the NBA or overseas.
Quiz Hoots on players he’s been in touch with of late and he’ll rattle off an impressive list of UNC greats like Antawn Jamison (Hawks), Danny Green (Spurs), Ed Davis (Grizzlies) and Tyler Hansbrough (Raptors), among many others.
While UNC has an impressive pipeline to the NBA, Hoots still draws inspiration from ex-Tar Heels now in the pros such as Kendall Marshall. The recent star has already endured the ups-and-downs of being a lottery pick from the Suns, being waived by the Wizards, and now flourishing with the Lakers.
“Kendall’s playing so well in Los Angeles,” Hoots said of the guard who is averaging nearly a double-double in points and assists this season. “I’m so happy for him – he’s such a great story.”
Hoots is too, considering the various tasks he performs, including his role as video coordinator for the program.
“I see that we get all the film together on opponents and have it edited together into a package for the coaches to use,” Hoots said, noting a recent four-games-in-eight-days stretch made that part of his job particularly challenging.
You won’t hear Hoots complaining, however, as Kirschner will tell you.
“If you’re ever down or having a bad day, you won’t be after talking to Eric,” Kirschner said of his associate’s positive attitude. “He’ll pick you right up.”
Perhaps that’s because Hoots has plenty of perspective on life, as his marriage to Amy Howe and their two sons (Brady and Jackson) have provided.
Carolina basketball, including Williams, is like another family to Hoots.
“I don’t even know how to put into words how much I appreciate the opportunity he’s given me,” Hoots said of the head coach. “He’s an even better person than he is a boss.”