Report: WMU Hires Spartan Assistant Stephens As New Basketball Coach
Multiple reports Monday afternoon say Tom Izzo's longtime assistant Dwayne Stephens has been chosen to lead the WMU Men's basketball program back to glory.
Stephens, who played for Izzo at Michigan State from 1989 to '93, has been an Izzo assistant for 19 seasons, including the last ten as Associate Coach. In that time, the Spartans have been to five Final Fours, and won six Big Ten basketball titles and four conference tournaments.
Prior to joining Izzo's staff, he was an assistant at Oakland University and an assistant at Marquette for four seasons, during which he assisted the Warriors to the Final Four.
"Stephens’ many responsibilities include player development, scouting and recruiting. He has worked closely with eight Spartans selected in the last 10 NBA Drafts, including six frontcourt players (Draymond Green, Adreian Payne, Branden Dawson, Deyonta Davis, Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr.)". - MSUSpartans.com
In addition, Stephens is considered a top recruiter, something WMU needs.
Stephens will be replacing Clayton Bates, who was fired after two seasons. This past season WMU finished last in the MAC at 8-23.
Izzo had nothing but high praise for his now-former assistant.
"To say that I'm happy for Dwayne to get the opportunity to be a head coach and run the program at Western Michigan would be a vast understatement. Dwayne has been more than ready to run his own program for a long time, and I think Western Michigan is getting an all-star. Dwayne is a terrific basketball coach and a great person, who will be a tremendous leader for their program and community. Dan (Bartholomae) is not just getting a basketball coach, but a coach who will support all of athletics and the teams at Western Michigan." - WMUBroncos.com
Heir to Izzo?
Speculation in The Athletic is that Stephens might be heir-apparent to Izzo at MSU. Having head coaching experience would certainly add to his resume, and Izzo has said he has no immediate plans to retire. The down-side is this reinforces that the WMU job is just a stop and not a destination.
Stephens, 50, is a Ferndale, Michigan native. He and his wife, Sarah, have three children.