Report: Wolverines tab Yaklich, Haynes as new assistants

Monday, July 31, 2017 - 12:24pm

The Michigan basketball team appears to have filled two vacant assistant coaching positions this past week — and both hires are from the same school. 

As first reported by Josh Henschke of The Michigan Insider and Brendan Quinn of The Athletic, Luke Yaklich and Deandre Haynes will both be making the move to Michigan from Illinois State. They are set to replace Billy Donlon and Jeff Meyer, who departed the program this offseason for jobs at Northwestern and Butler, respectively. The school has yet to confirm either hire. 

As an associate head coach this past season, Yaklich comes to the Wolverines fresh off a record-breaking season with the Redbirds in which the team set a program record with 28 total wins. Yaklich spent over 10 years as a head coach at the high school and AAU levels before joining the Illinois State staff in 2013 as an assistant. 

Of note, the Illinois State website frequently attributes the team’s recent success in the classroom — the Redbirds set a program record for GPA last season — to Yaklich, noting that he was in charge of academics with the team. In addition, his ties to the AAU circuit make him a viable recruiter and should help replace the void left by Donlon and Meyer on the trail.

Unlike Yaklich, Haynes actually never coached for Illinois State, spending a mere two months with the program. Haynes most recently coached as an assistant at Toledo for one season after beginning his coaching career at Kent State. With ties to the Michigan area — Haynes grew up in Detroit and played at Southwestern High School — he should provide a boost in the ever-competitive in-state recruiting battles.

Both Yaklich and Haynes fit the mold of the type of hires Michigan coach John Beilein makes. They’re both relatively young and played basketball collegiately — both which seem to be prerequisites to becoming an assistant coach under Beilein.

Entering the season, one of the major storylines will be whether or not the Wolverines can replicate their defensive improvements from a year ago. Donlon, brought in a year ago to shore up one of the worst defenses in the league, helped lead Michigan to the third-best scoring defense in the Big Ten last season. Yaklich comes to Michigan with a defensive background, having guided the Redbirds to the sixth best opponent effective field goal percentage (a metric adjusted to account for the value of three-point attempts) in the nation.

With Donlon gone, and DJ Wilson and Zak Irvin off to the NBA, Yaklich in particular could be tasked with maintaining the Wolverines' defensive competence.

Hiring fresh staff is nothing new for Beilein. He has had to replace two assistants each of the past two offseasons. Meyer, in fact, will be joining the staff of former Wolverines assistant Lavall Jordan at Butler. The high rate of staff turnover comes with its positives and negatives. 

Bringing in new assistants each year forces an inevitable transition period as the players and coaches become acquainted with each other and the systems they are implementing. Having a volatile coaching staff also can make recruiting more difficult — though that risk is minimized as long as Beilein remains head coach. 

But when the younger assistants leave Michigan it tends to be for head coaching jobs or higher-profile gigs. This, in turn, makes Michigan an attractive destination for coaches looking for a launching pad to bigger jobs; an allure to good, young coaches even beyond Michigan’s natural appeal.

After the month-long search, the two hires have filled the coaching staff for the upcoming season.