Wayne State basketball is hoping to recapture a bit of its past success in men’s basketball — with an assist from former Michigan coach John Beilein.
WSU hired Bryan Smothers as its new head coach Wednesday. Smothers, who played for the Warriors from 2007-11, replaces David Greer, the program’s winningest coach who retired in November with a 266-263 record and five Division II NCAA tournament appearances.
Smothers rejoins the Warriors from Niagara University, where he was an assistant coach under Greg Paulus for three seasons. The Purple Eagles are 12-15, but lost close games on the road to Ohio State and Eastern Michigan this season and beat Youngstown State in November.
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“I could not be happier for Bryan and his family,” Paulus said in a statement. “Bryan is a principled leader and an outstanding teacher and communicator. His work ethic and passion for people made our program better and helped develop our student-athletes on and off the court. I am thankful for all he did during his time at Niagara University and looking forward to seeing the success he will bring as he goes home to his alma mater.”
Before coaching at Niagara, Smothers spent five seasons working for Beilein at Michigan, including his final three as the Wolverines’ video analyst. That followed three seasons on Greer’s staff at Wayne State.
Smothers’ success at WSU culminated in the 2011 GLIAC tournament title, as he led the Warriors to their first NCAA tournament since 1999. That season, he dished out 151 assists, good for fourth in WSU history. The Pontiac Northern alumnus was just the second player in Wayne State history with 1,100 points, 300 assists and 300 rebounds over his career; he was induced into the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2020.
Smothers is the 10th head coach in Wayne State basketball history, and just the third in 34 years.
“Bryan has everything I was looking for in our next head coach,” WSU athletic Rob Fournier said in a release Wednesday. “He has worked under various systems and coaches who I respect. He understands and has demonstrated the hard work and commitment to be successful. He has a proven ability as a recruiter and knows Detroit and Michigan.”