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UM, Detroit finalize basketball coaching staffs

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
John Beilein

Michigan basketball coach John Beilein has put the finishing touches on a staff that's experienced some rare turnover this offseason.

On Thursday, Beilein announced that Waleed Samaha would become director of basketball operations, and Bryan Smothers has been promoted from grad assistant to video analyst.

Samaha, a long-time boys basketball coach at Huron High School, replaces Pete Kahlerleft, who took an assistant coach position on new Detroit head coach Bacari Alexander's staff.

Smothers, meanwhile, replaces Will Vergollo, who became an assistant coach on new Milwaukee head coach LaVall Jordan's staff.

Alexander and Jordan each spent the last six seasons as assistants under Beilein at Michigan.

"We have taken great pride having a staff of high character and professional people," Beilein said in a statement. "We are continuing that trend by hiring Waleed."

Samaha holds a bachelor's degree from Eastern Michigan and a master's in social work from Michigan.

He spent three years as boys basketball coach at Ypsilanti High, going 35-31. In 2002, he took over the boys basketball program at Huron High, going 229-85 with seven league championships, six district titles and an appearance in the 2010 Class A final.

"I never thought I would leave Huron," Samaha said. "I have so much to learn, but relish this opportunity. This is an exciting time for my family and I, and I cannot wait to get started."

Smothers played at Wayne State before spending two seasons as a student-assistant coach at Michigan. He was moved into a graduate-assistant position in 2013-14. He recently earned a master's in social work.

In other college-basketball coaching news, Alexander has finalized his staff at Detroit. In addition to Kahler, Alexander hired Canaan Chatman -- the father of recent UM transfer Kameron Chatman -- as an assistant coach.

Canaan Chatman has been a longtime AAU coach in the Pacific Northwest, but through AAU, he has deep recruiting connections all over. Chatman played two seasons at the University of Portland before playing professionally at several stops overseas.

"Coach Chatman's national AAU and high-school connections provide a borderless aspect that helps bolster our recruiting efforts at Detroit," Alexander said in a statement. "His ability to connect and mentor young people was something that stood out as well in our discussions over recent years."