Michigan hires Billy Donlon, Saddi Washington

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan’s new coaching staff is finally in place. John Beilein hired ex-Wright State coach Billy Donlon and Oakland assistant coach Saddi Washington to fill the two vacancies on his coaching staff.

“We are forever grateful for the fine work that LaVall Jordan and Bacari Alexander brought to our program over the past six years,” John Beilein said in a statement. “Their departures, however, have opened up a great opportunity for our staff to grow. 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.

Donlon, 39, was the head coach at Wright State from 2010-2016 and was the Horizon League Coach of the Year in 2013. He played his college basketball at UNC Wilmington and also served as an assistant at American (1999-2000), St. Peters (2000-01) and UNC Wilimington (2001-2006).

“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 is regarded for his defensive coaching ability and coached three top-100 defenses at Wright State including two top-50 groups. His teams forced turnovers and cleaned up the defensive glass at a high-level.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Washington has been an assistant coach at Oakland for 10 years. He was considered a finalist when Michigan hired Bacari Alexander and has deep connections to the state of Michigan.

“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.”

Serving as Oakland’s associate head coach, big man coach and recruiting coordinator, Washington has played a pivotal part in an Oakland program that has been one of the best mid-majors in the Midwest.

“My family and I are truly blessed and excited to begin this new phase of our lives in Ann Arbor,” said Washington. “Growing up in the state of Michigan, I understand the rich history that has been developed and maintained here at U-M. 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.”

Washington grew up in Lansing and played at Western Michigan. He also coached at Romulus before joining the satff at Oakland. Washington has been one of the primary recruiters for some of Oakland’s great players such as Kay Felder, Johnathon Jones, Travis Bader and Drew Valentine.

  • bobohle

    Gentlemen you sound like excellent choices to me. Now let’s get to work and get M competing for a B1G championship and a long tournament run soon. Go Blue! It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

  • Mattski

    This looks very promising to me.

  • MEL

    Donlon sounds like the equivalent of a one and done. A good year here, and then takes another mid major opening next year. Hope he installs a good D

  • We pick up a DC and a solid recruiter with in-state contacts. I don’t know what more you could possibly ask for.

  • Champswest

    I never got into the assistant coach search discussion because what the hell do I know about any of the candidates. Glad I didn’t waste any of my time worrying over it. Sounds like Beilein did a fine job in landing these two. I hope it pleases even the hard to please fans.
    Now, fill those remaining roster spots and we are good to go.

  • Wayman Britt

    Welcome to the University of Michigan – Mr. Washington and Mr. Donlon. Thank you for joining the Wolverine family. I hope this is a joyous time for you and your family. I know you have a lot going on, but the following should be on your immediate To Do list:

    1. Find a quality graduate transfer, international player, recruit or JUCO wing player who is immediately available to step in and play this season

    2. Contact Poole, Cain and Young and get them to commit to Michigan or stay committed.

    3. Dust off your defensive fundamental drills, defensive plays and defensive tricks to begin teaching the team when they return to campus on June 29th.

  • Tenzin

    Dylan…. you spelled Michigan wrong…it’s not mihigan…it’s actually spelled Michigan

  • Stephen Chang

    It is my understanding that Dolan has a solid reputation for defense and Washington is well known for recruiting in Michigan and in the Midwest. Anyone know why Dolan was suddenly fired by Wright State? He had a solid record as their HC.

  • mikey_mac

    Thrilled that Donlon’s teams have defensively been both very good (esp. for a school the size of Wright St) and very different in approach (e.g. high TO%, high foul). New ideas aplenty.