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Portions of Interstate 40 to be named for UNC's Smith, Williams

Dean Smith, Roy Williams
FILE - In this March 30, 1991, file photo, then-Kansas coach Roy Williams, left, and North Carolina coach Dean Smith talk before the start of the first NCAA national semifinal game in Indianapolis.

Two stretches of Interstate 40 will bear the names of two legendary men's basketball coaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The N.C. Department of Transportation approved a request on Wednesday to name portions of I-40 in Chapel Hill for coaches Dean Smith and Roy Williams, according to a news release from the school's athletic department.

NCDOT will place honorary signs designating stretches of I-40 from exits 266-N.C. Highway 86, to exit 270- U.S. Highways 15-501 as the Roy Williams Highway.

The Dean Smith Highway stretches between exits 270 and 273 and includes U.S. Highways 15-501 and N.C. Highway 54, both of which lead to the Dean Smith Center, home court for the men's team.

The Chapel Hill Town Council approved a resolution to support the request on Nov. 17.

Between them, Smith and Williams coached the Tar Heels for 67 seasons, including their time as assistant coaches. Both are members of the Naismith, College Basketball and North Carolina Sports halls of fame. They led the Tar Heel men's teams to five NCAA championships, 16 Final Fours, 16 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament titles, 26 regular-season ACC championships and 1,364 victories.

Smith coached the Tar Heels from 1961 through 1997, winning 13 ACC tournament titles and two national championships. He died in 2015 at the age of 83.

Williams retired this past spring after leading the Tar Heels to an 18-11 record an another NCAA tournament appearance. Williams had been the coach at his alma mater since 2003 and had won three national championships. He was succeeded by Hubert Davis, who played under Smith and was an assistant coach under Williams.

So far this season, the Tar Heels are 6-2 under Davis.

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Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
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