Dwayne Stephens, who has been with Tom Izzo at alma mater Michigan State for the last nineteen seasons, has been hired as the new head coach at Western Michigan. This is the first head coaching opportunity for Stephens, who has been to the Final Four six times as an assistant coach.
“From our earliest conversations, DJ rose to the top of an incredibly competitive candidate pool as the right choice to lead our men’s basketball program to excellence,” AD Dan Bartholomae said in a release. “His reputation as one of the nation’s most elite recruiters and his experience in developing some of the world’s finest basketball athletes separated him as one of the country’s most outstanding basketball coaches. However, it was his sincere and authentic personality, coupled with his commitment to the holistic development of our student-athletes, that made him the best fit for our position.”
Stephens played for Jud Heathcote in the early 1990s and has been an assistant coach since 1997, with stints at Oakland and Marquette before returning to MSU in 2003. He was part of the 2003 Marquette team (led by another former MSU assistant, Tom Crean) that reached the Final Four and has been to five more Final Fours with Sparty, including the Runner-Up finish in 2009.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to lead Western Michigan basketball,” Stephens said. “I’ve spent nearly 20 years at Michigan State, working under a Hall of Fame Coach Tom Izzo. Saying thanks to him for what I’ve learned and for our friendship isn’t enough. I will carry all of those lessons with me to Western Michigan, which I think is a perfect place for me as a head coach. From the first time I met with Dan, I could feel the energy and excitement he has for Western Michigan and I love the vision he has, not only for our men’s basketball program, but for athletics at WMU. I’m so very happy for this opportunity and can’t wait to get started!”
WMU parted ways with Clayton Bates last month after just two seasons. The Broncos were led by Steve Hawkins for 17 seasons before that, but Hawkins was fired in March 2020 after five-straight seasons without a postseason appearance. The program last played in the NCAA Tournament in 2014.
credit to Western Michigan Athletics for the image