Beilein adds Donlon, Washington to UM staff

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Billy Donlon compiled a 109-94 record in six seasons at Wright State.

Ann Arbor — Michigan basketball has filled its coaching vacancies.

Next up, filling out its roster.

Coach John Beilein announced Wednesday that longtime Oakland University assistant Saddi Washington and recently fired Wright State head coach Billy Donlon will be joining the staff, as The News first reported were finalists for the positions late Tuesday night.

They will replace Bacari Alexander, who became head coach at Detroit, and LaVall Jordan, who became head coach at Milwaukee.

“Billy Donlon and Saddi Washington are exactly who I felt we needed to be able to continue our success and compete for more Big Ten championships,” Beilein said in a release sent out by the university.

Washington, a Lansing native who played at Western Michigan, comes to Michigan after 10 years on coach Greg Kampe’s staff at Oakland.

He is considered a top recruiter, and was responsible for getting star Kay Felder, who recently departed for the NBA, to come to Oakland.

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“Saddi and I have known each other since his days at Western Michigan when I coached against them,” Beilein said. “We have also talked a lot of basketball in my nine years here at Michigan. Saddi is an outstanding teacher of the game, and I love that he can coach multiple positions. He has established great relationships as a recruiter both in and out of the state of Michigan. His poise and presence remind me of LaVall, and I know he will be a great asset to our program.”

Said Kampe: “I cannot tell you how happy I am for Saddi. He has given me 10 of the best years of Oakland basketball. He has been an integral part of what we’ve been able to accomplish over that time. He will really be missed, but once again I cannot tell you how happy I am for him to be coaching at one of the finest institutions in the country.”

Washington was associate head coach the last three years under Kampe. His coaching career began after his playing days were over, as an assistant at Romulus High.

“My family and I are truly blessed and excited to begin this new phase of our lives in Ann Arbor,” Washington said. “Growing up in the state of Michigan, I understand the rich history that has been developed and maintained here at UM. It is the elite standard of excellence both academically and athletically. Coach Beilein is known throughout the country as an elite coach and tactician, so I look forward to learning under his tutelage and further developing my craft as a coach and builder of young men.”

Donlon spent the last six years as head coach at Wright State, posting four winning seasons, including three seasons of more than 20 wins. He reached the Horizon League tournament title game three times, including this season.

He also made some headlines during the Horizon League tournament at Joe Louis Arena this spring, when he ripped the conference for its seeding and bye procedure, and ripped the media for not voting any of his players all-conference.

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His firing from Wright State was criticized by many in the coaching community.

“I have known Billy for almost two decades, and I love his passion and IQ for the game,” Beilein said. “He has tremendous experience as a player, assistant and head coach at the Division I level. Improving our defense is a huge goal for us, and defense is one of Billy’s specialties. He is also excellent in skill development, and that has been a key to our success at Michigan. I am excited to have Billy join our staff, the athletics department and this university.”

Donlon was associate head coach at Wright State before his promotion, and also spent four seasons on staff at UNC-Wilmington.

“Having the opportunity to work at one of the most prestigious universities in the world as well as with one of the most respected coaches in the game is truly an honor,” Donlon said. “As a player, I competed against Coach Beilein’s Richmond teams. I always admired the way they played and how they competed the right way. Getting a chance to be part of that is a great opportunity, and I am very eager to get started.”

Beilein, who’s been short-staffed on the recruiting trail since Alexander and Jordan left, now can turn his attention to filling out the roster, which has two scholarships available with the four transfers this offseason — of Spike Albrecht, Aubrey Dawkins, Ricky Doyle and, most recently, Kameron Chatman.

Michigan almost certainly will be focusing on adding a big man or two.