After 12 seasons at Michigan, basketball coach John Beilein is leaving for the NBA, to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Michigan hasn't received much good news so far this offseason.
More came Monday when it was announced that John Beilein, the program’s all-time winningest coach, is leaving the Wolverines and climbing the ladder to coach the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
The drastic turn adds to Michigan’s growing to-do list, which already includes replacing two starters in Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole and potentially Big Ten Freshman of the Year Ignas Brazdeikis.
Matthews and Poole have both announced they will stay in the NBA Draft, while Brazdeikis has yet to make a final decision.
"Is John Beilein going to be there? As long as we got him, we're good," former Fab Five member and NBA star Jalen Rose told The Detroit News last month. "I'm not worried about (losing talent). He's going to recruit. He has a style of play that whether it's the pick-and-roll, whether it's surround the 3-point line with bigs that can shoot the 3, drive and kick, whether it's the 1-3-1 defense, whether it's man-to-man defense, he's one of the best coaches in the country.
"As long as you have that, the program is going to survive when players come and go."
With Beilein now gone, though, who else stays and who else goes remains to be seen.
As it stands, the Wolverines have 12 players on scholarship and one open roster spot for the 2019-20 season, with 10 returning players, including Brazdeikis, and two incoming freshmen in four-star wing Jalen Wilson and four-star combo guard Cole Bajema.
Before the team’s awards banquet last month, Beilein said he didn’t expect any additional roster attrition outside of the NBA decisions by Matthews, Poole and Brazdeikis. But with Beilein and his ability to evaluate and develop talent leaving Ann Arbor, the circumstances have changed, particularly when it comes to recruiting.
The most pressing decisions center around Wilson and Bajema, who are nationally rated the No. 50 and No. 105 prospects, respectively, for 2019 in the 247Sports Composite rankings. Both signed their national letters of intent on the first day of the early signing period in November.
However, the surprising coaching change could spur Wilson and Bajema to ask out of their LOIs and look elsewhere, much like five-star Boogie Ellis did with Duke two weeks ago. Under NCAA rules, Wilson and Bajema must request a release from their contract with the school to re-open the recruiting process.
Wilson told The Michigan Daily's Ethan Sears that he is still committed to the Wolverines, while Lynden Christian High coach Roger DeBoer told Scorebook Live that Bajema is "sitting tight" and letting "the dust settle" in the wake of Monday's development.
Beilein’s departure could also change Michigan’s standing with Oakland grad transfer target Jaevin Cumberland and 2020 commit Zeb Jackson.
Cumberland visited Michigan last week and received a scholarship offer. A message left for Cumberland went unreturned.
Jackson, a four-star guard, verbally committed to the Wolverines in October 2018 and plays AAU ball for Ohio's C2K Elite, which is coached by Michigan guard Zavier Simpson's father, Quincey.
Since Jackson has only made a non-binding, oral agreement with the Wolverines, he still can be recruited by other schools and sign a LOI with whomever he chooses.
"Yes, I know coach Beilein went to Cleveland," the elder Simpson posted on Twitter. "If that’s what he wanted to do, I’m extremely happy for him.
"My son is going to play hard for whoever is coaching him. My nephew Zeb will do what he feel is best for him. We’re blessed!!"
While Jackson is Michigan's lone commit for 2020 so far, the Wolverines have also offered 2020 five-star guards Nimari Burnett, four-star guards Ethan Morton and Micah Peavy, four-star forward Carlos Johnson and big men Walker Kessler (five stars) and Zach Loveday (four stars). Morton verbally committed to Purdue last week.
The uncertainty doesn’t stop there. Michigan assistant coaches Saddi Washington, Luke Yaklich and DeAndre Haynes were all on one-year contracts this past season, which ran through April 30, 2019.
Washington joined Beilein’s staff in 2016-17 and has served as the top assistant the last two seasons. Yaklich, the de facto defensive coordinator, and Haynes, who primarily works with the guards, have been with the Wolverines for two years. All three have played an integral role in the program’s recent success on the court and on the recruiting trail.
And even though Washington and Yaklich are two in-house candidates who could possibly replace Beilein, there's no guarantee any of the three assistants will be retained.
Despite all the tough news and matters to tend to, Michigan’s new coach will inherit a team that is coming off back-to-back 30-win seasons and features a solid core with center Jon Teske, forward Isaiah Livers and Simpson.