Jay Smith returns to Michigan as Juwan Howard completes basketball staff

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Michigan coach Juwan Howard is bringing back a few familiar faces to round out his staff — and even one of his former coaches.

The program announced on Monday that Jay Smith, who spent seven seasons in Ann Arbor as an assistant on Steve Fisher’s staff, has been hired as the team’s director of player personnel and development.

Juwan Howard

"There are many people who have helped me throughout my career; however, Jay Smith is someone special who I have a deep connection with and the utmost respect for," Howard said in a statement. "He has such an incredible passion for the game and his ability to relate with young men is going to be something invaluable for us. We are very fortunate to have him return to Ann Arbor and join our staff."

During Smith’s time at Michigan from 1989-96, he worked with numerous All-Americans — like Rumeal Robinson, Loy Vaught and Terry Mills — and assisted in recruiting the Fab Five class of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson and Howard.

After leaving Michigan, Smith went on to become head coach at Division II Grand Valley State (1996-97) and Central Michigan (1998-2006) before spending eight years as an assistant at Detroit Mercy (2008-16).

Smith, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2018, spent the last three seasons as the head coach at Division III Kalamazoo College.

"There are always interesting twists in this game," Smith said in a statement. "That can be said for this situation. I have been through plenty over the last few years and loved the opportunity Kalamazoo trusted in me. However, the chance to help out Juwan and return to Michigan is something my family and I are excited about and thankful for."

In addition to Smith, the program also retained Chris Hunter as the team’s director of basketball operations and added David Metzendorf as a video analyst and former Wolverine Jaaron Simmons as a graduate manager.

Hunter has spent the past five seasons with the Wolverines, including the last three in his current role, while Metzendorf, an Ann Arbor native, arrives after spending the last three years at Holy Cross. Simmons, a member of Michigan’s 2018 Final Four team, is back after spending a year playing professionally in Sweden.

Smith, Metzendorf and Simmons will replace departing staff members Chinedu Nwachukwu, Bryan Smothers and Jay Shunnar. Nwachukwu and Smothers left for assistant coaching jobs at Youngstown State and Niagara, respectively, and Shunnar will serve as a special assistant to former coach John Beilein with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Monday's four additions complete Howard’s staff. Phil Martelli, Howard Eisley and holdover Saddi Washington have been hired as the assistant coaches, and strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson and athletic trainer Alex Wong will both resume their roles.


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins