McCants played as a freshman for coach Matt Doherty, who resigned under pressure and was succeeded by Williams in April 2003. McCants led the ACC in scoring his sophomore year and was the second-leading scorer his junior year as the Tar Heels won the national title. Still, he often was described as mercurial and enigmatic. In one local TV interview that ended up drawing national media coverage, McCants angered the basketball program's fans by equating UNC with being in jail: "You're not allowed to do certain things, you're not allowed to say certain things." He later said his statements were misinterpreted.
Williams said that over the years, he has thought fondly of McCants: "Like every player, we would have some differences on or off the court."
He said he has no idea why McCants made the allegations about his academics at UNC.
"That's really been hard to figure out," Williams said. "But it's evident that he's not happy. So as a coach, and especially a coach who has probably thin skin like I do, it's hurtful, it's harmful, it makes you think, but I have no idea. ...
"He's part of our family. He was extremely important to some success we had, but it's almost like he's trying to divorce himself away from what went on here."
Reporter Steve Delsohn and producer Dave Lubbers of ESPN's Enterprise and Investigative Unit contributed to this report.