With Zoom and limited time, new WMU hoops coach Clayton Bates adds three recruits

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

New Western Michigan basketball coach Clayton Bates took the job less than three weeks ago, and like all college coaches, he's been extremely limited in what he's been able to do.

But he still was able to sign three recruits Wednesday, the first day of the regular signing period.

Western Michigan added graduate transfer Greg Lee from Cal State-Bakersfield, junior-college transfer Jaylon Holmes from Lincoln Trail College in Illinois, and Houston high-schooler Daylan Hamilton.

Greg Lee, a graduate transfer, signed with Western Michigan.

All three will be immediately eligible in 2020-21 for the Broncos, who last month dismissed head coach Steve Hawkins after 17 seasons as head coach, and 20 total at the university. Bates, an assistant under Hawkins for three separate stints, got the job on a two-year deal, for $220,000 a year, after the school instituted a hiring freeze amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bates, 47, like his peers, has been limited to Zoom video chat, text messaging and phone calls in his contact with current players and recruits.

Lee was the biggest "get" for Bates' first recruiting class, a 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 6.7 points and 3.9 rebounds last season. He led his team with 11 blocks, and should help replace some of the size lost by the transfer of Brandon Johnson to Minnesota. Lee doesn't score like Johnson, though.

“Greg brings experience, toughness and a proven work ethic to our program," Bates said. "Greg can play multiple positions and brings a skill set that is needed and fits extremely well to our system.”

Holmes, a 6-6 guard, played two JUCO seasons, averaging 9.3 points and 6.1 rebounds in 27 games his first season. Injuries limited him to eight games this past season, but he averaged 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists, while shooting 66.2% from the field.

He could be seen as a scoring option to help ease the sting of Michael Flowers' departure. Flowers, a former Southfield A&T star, led Western in scoring this past season (Johnson was second), but decided to transfer. He hasn't announced his future destination.

Hamilton, a 6-3 guard, averaged 26 points during his senior season of high school and was first-team all-state in Texas. He was his district's MVP.

A young Western team finished 13-19 this past season, while the Broncos were 8-24 the previous season, which was significantly impacted by injuries and the transfer portal.

Bates is a first-time head coach, and was the second candidate offered the job, after the university's clear preference, Michigan assistant Saddi Washington, turned it down to remain on Juwan Howard's staff.

Western administrators had planned to make an outside hire, until the pandemic forced the hiring freeze, leading athletic director Kathy Beauregard to Bates.

"I didn't imagine when Mrs. Beauregard made the change that this is what the outcome would be," Bates told The Detroit News recently. "But I don't make any apologies for that, either."

None of the state's other mid-majors — Oakland, Detroit Mercy, Eastern Michigan or Central Michigan — announced any official signings this week.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984