Michigan’s men’s basketball job is one of the best in men's Division I college basketball.
Unlimited resources. Basketball facility that is on par with its rivals. Tremendous administration support. A supportive, passionate fan base that is spread all over the country.
TOO EARLY RANKINGS: Michigan State leads Andy Katz's Power 36 for 2019-2020
After 12 seasons, John Beilein is leaving Michigan to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Beilein took a once-proud program that had been mired in mediocrity and elevated it to elite status. The Wolverines went to nine NCAA tournaments under his leadership, more importantly to two national title games in 2013 and 2018. The Wolverines won consecutive Big Ten tournament titles in 2017 and 2018. This is a coveted job.
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel has to act fast. The early-entry NBA draft withdrawal deadline is May 29. Expect Michigan to go after and name a coach well before then. This could all move at warp speed.
Thank you, @JohnBeilein, for everything you did for Michigan.— Michigan Men's Basketball (@umichbball) May 13, 2019
▪️ 278 Wins
▪️ 9 NCAA Tournament Appearances
▪️ 2 Final Four Appearances
▪️ 2 #B1G Regular Season Championships
▪️ 2 #B1G Tournament Titles
▪️ 18 All-Big Ten Selections
▪️ 9 @NBA Draft Picks
Forever, #GoBlue! 〽️ pic.twitter.com/EKo7Cbu1jk
Beilein ran a clean program where character mattered. Expect Michigan to do the same.
The Wolverines have to look to poach a coach who may be content and convince them that the Wolverines can offer more security, as well as money. Michigan can do all of that with this hire. An elite coach like Villanova’s Jay Wright would be a home run, but it’s hard to take away a coach who has won two national championships in the last four seasons. I don’t see coaches like Wright going to another college job. The next stop would be the NBA. That’s why I never believed John Calipari was going to go anywhere but the NBA if he ever left Kentucky. He didn’t go to UCLA. He listened. They all will. But leaving is another matter. Grabbing a coach from within the Big Ten is always a possibility. Rutgers' Steve Pikiell could be considered but could be a harder sell since the Scarlet Knights have been well below Michigan in the Big Ten.
Michigan will find a coach that best fits its profile. Here is a list of my picks to help them:
Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City: The Thunder picked up Donovan’s option for a fifth season in December. Coming back to college is a hard choice for coaches who have had a taste of the NBA. That’s why it would be difficult to see any college pry Brad Stevens away from the Celtics. But the timing is right for Donovan if he wants to get out of the Thunder after an early exit in the playoffs. The Michigan job would be a plumb offering for Donovan. The program is readymade and while recruiting and retaining talent is still a struggle at any school, the lure of a possible landing spot like this one could be enticing.
BASKETBALL AWARDS: Here are 7 early Naismith Trophy candidates for next season
Luke Yaklich/Saddi Washington, Michigan assistants: When Beilein didn’t go on the trip to Spain due to heart surgery last summer, Washington was the defacto head coach. But there could be a case made for either top assistant to replace Beilein. Washington and Yaklich, the defensive specialist, both have had strong roles under Beilein. I’m sure they will get consideration, but the job may command a current head coach.
LaVall Jordan, Butler: Jordan is from Michigan and coached under Beilein for six seasons. He played at Butler and has taken the Bulldogs to the NCAA and NIT tournaments in each of his last two seasons. If Manuel wants to go in the Beilein coaching family tree then Jordan has to get a look. He’s not as established yet, but is references would be top notch.
Got 'em with the super soaker‼️ pic.twitter.com/tlA4yEh0eg— Michigan Men's Basketball (@umichbball) May 13, 2019
Mike Brey, Notre Dame: Brey made it clear that he wasn’t interested in UCLA. He has coached the Irish since 2000 and been to multiple Elite Eights as well as winning an ACC tournament. Brey has a tremendous reputation in the biz and coaches an offensive style that would certainly do well in the Big Ten. If he’s ever going to move, then this could be the right time. But he has consistently turned away from potential offers.
Mike White, Florida: The reason Florida hired White after Donovan left for the NBA was that he reminded the Gators of Donovan. White took the Gators to the Elite Eight in his second season in Gainesville in 2017. He went to the NCAA tournament the past two seasons, too. He does a great job elevating the talent. He’s level-headed, high-character, comes from the First Family in college athletics with Duke athletic director Kevin White as his father and UCF athletic director Danny White as his brother. Florida is a good basketball job. Michigan is a great one. The allure could be there if the interest were reciprocal.
Ed Cooley, Providence: Manuel has seen Cooley from when Manuel was athletic director at UConn. He knows how Cooley maximizes his talent, gets his teams to play extremely hard and is a joy to be around. Cooley is from Providence and is really the face of the university. Leaving Rhode Island would take a can’t-miss opportunity. This would be it for Cooley if the interest were mutual. He led the Friars to five-straight NCAA tournaments before going to the NIT this past March.
Kevin Willard, Seton Hall: Willard was a hot name this coaching carousel for good reason. Much like Cooley, Willard has turned around a middling Big East program. Willard has had the Pirates in the NCAA tournament in four-straight seasons — no easy feat in arguably the toughest program to do so in the league. Willard’s teams play an entertaining style and his recruiting has continued to show he can evaluate with any peer.