Detroit Mercy one of five DI schools without basketball coach

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
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Jermaine Jackson Jr. and Jermaine Jackson Sr.

Detroit – Two years ago this week, Detroit Mercy introduced its latest men's basketball coach, Bacari Alexander.

Today, nearly a month after Alexander was fired after two disappointing seasons, there is no indication the Titans are close to naming a successor.

Detroit Mercy remains just one of five vacant Division I men's basketball jobs, out of 351 total programs. The others are Chicago State, Delaware State, Maryland Eastern Shore and Siena.

Detroit Mercy athletic director Robert Vowels hasn't returned repeated calls and text messages from The Detroit News seeking comment on the status of the search.

Vowels was at the Final Four in San Antonio earlier this month and met with a number of possible candidates, and talked to several agents, but he has let the latest open recruiting period – April 5-18, except for a dead period from April 9-12 – come and go without hiring his next coach.

The next Detroit Mercy head coach will have his hands full keeping together a roster that is in a serious state of flux, with guards Corey Allen and Josh McFolley recently announcing their intentions to transfer. The status of forward Kam Chatman and guard Jermaine Jackson Jr. remain up in the air, with their fathers both on the coaching staff, for now. Chatman has declared for the NBA Draft but isn't hiring an agent, and isn't likely to test the pro waters.

Jermaine Jackson Sr. was named the interim coach upon Alexander's firing, and was believed to be a favorite for the head-coaching job – he was runner-up to Alexander two years ago, after all. But even his official current status now is clouded in mystery, with a university spokesman recently telling The News, "Detroit Mercy does not provide public comment on internal personnel issues."

Jackson also hasn't responded to inquiries from The News. A spokesman for the university president deferred questions to Vowels, who hasn't responded.

Among candidates known to have had some level of discussion with Detroit Mercy are former Central Michigan coach Ernie Zeigler, who's now an assistant coach at Mississippi State, and Lindsey Hunter, the former Piston who was an assistant at Buffalo before taking this past year off following the death of his dad.

There is not believed to be much overlap in the candidates Detroit Mercy is talking to, and candidates for the other four programs with an opening. Siena is arguably the best job available, and might be preparing to hire Patrick Beilein, the son of Michigan coach John Beilein.

Detroit Mercy was 8-23 and 8-24 in Alexander's two seasons – the latter which saw him serve a seven-game suspension for a reported verbal altercation with a player in practice – and hasn't had a winning season since 2015-16, Ray McCallum Sr.'s last season on the job. Detroit Mercy hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2012.

The Titans aren't the only Horizon League men's team dealing with significant challenges. The Milwaukee and Youngstown State programs are among those losing several players, and many of them key players, to transfers. Oakland, a perennial preseason favorite, also is bracing for a down year after the loss for several key redshirt seniors. All this comes after a year in which the Horizon League was 26th in RPI, seventh-worst in the country, following the departure of Valparaiso to the Missouri Valley Conference.

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