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DeAndre Haynes is the perfect head coach for EMU Basketball

DeAndre Haynes should not be an assistant coach for the Maryland men’s basketball team.

As a reader, you’re probably wondering where the criticism is to follow the above sentence. After all, it is the perfect setup to “go in” on someone. 

Not in this case.

See, the reason Haynes, 37, doesn’t belong on the Terrapins’ sidelines has nothing to do with his coaching skills. Quite frankly, he’s phenomenal at his job. It’s the reason why Maryland’s Mark Turgeon quickly hired him after Michigan’s Juwan Howard opted not to retain him on his new coaching staff. Turgeon acknowledged his need for Haynes’ intangibles on his coaching staff. In his words, Haynes was the “right fit” for the job.

Jan 19, 2021; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon (left) is restrained by assistant coach Deandre Haynes as he argues with a game official in the second half against the Michigan Wolverines at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

So what is the reason why Haynes doesn’t belong in Maryland? Well, it’s pretty simple. Haynes should be coaching at a university in Michigan. No, not the Univesity OF Michigan, but at a university in Michigan. And in irony, where he should be is not too far from U of M.

DeAndre Haynes needs to return to coaching in the MAC. 

More importantly, Haynes needs to be the next men’s basketball coach at Eastern Michigan.

Rob Murphy’s departure opens a door for a Haynes hire.

When Eastern Michigan hired Rob Murphy as its men’s basketball coach in 2011, there was a slight buzz in the Metro Detroit area. Just like Haynes, Murphy is a native Detroiter and former assistant coach at Kent State University. Murphy also spent the previous seven seasons as an assistant coach for Syracuse under Jim Boeheim.  

So it’s safe to surmise that EMU thought Murphy would change the course of its basketball program. And initially, he did. However, after guiding the Eagles to a MAC West division title in his first season, the program plateaued under him. Last season, he coached the Eagles to a 6-12 season (3-11 in the MAC).

And then he left.

On March 17th, Murphy departed EMU to become the new President and GM of the Motor City Cruise, the G-League affiliate to the Detroit Pistons. Murphy’s departure seemed unexpected, but let’s be honest. EMU may be better off. 

And this is where DeAndre Haynes comes in. 

Haynes is no stranger to the MAC.

Eastern Michigan is currently interviewing candidates for the head coach vacancy created by Murphy’s departure. With this next hire, they need to do something significant. More than turning to a hometown native, they need to hire someone who knows the MAC as a coach and player.

Haynes does.

He played four seasons at point guard for the Kent State Golden Flashes. Haynes left in 2006 as the school’s all-time leader in steals and assists. In that same year, he averaged 13 points, and 1.7 steals, leading the Golden Flashes to a MAC regular season and tournament championship. Those same efforts also earned him the MAC Player of the Year honors. 

After leaving Kent State, Haynes continued his basketball career, playing professionally overseas for six years before returning to Kent State to join Rob Senderoff’s coaching staff. Under Senderoff, he helped guide the Golden Flashes to a MAC regular-season championship. 

Haynes spent four seasons coaching alongside Senderoff before heading to the University of Toledo to join the Zips’ men’s basketball coaching staff. 

Haynes carries the perfect pedigree to lead EMU’s men’s basketball program. He has a combined total of nine seasons in the MAC as a coach and player. He can speak to the ins and outs of the conference from both sides. It’s something that will bode well for him and EMU during recruiting. 

Additionally, besides knowing the pulse of the MAC, Haynes knows the pulse of the state. 

EMU needs a coach who is a leader of men and can recruit in the state.

When Michigan hired Juwan Howard after John Belien’s abrupt departure, several coaches’ jobs on Belien’s staff were in jeopardy.

Haynes’ job was one of them. After two years coaching on the Wolverines’ sidelines, he was out at Michigan. And one could argue it was the wrong decision to make. During his two years at Michigan, Haynes was instrumental in developing Jordan Poole, Charles Matthews, Isaiah Livers, and Zavier Simpson. Michigan had a 63-15 record during his two years there, advancing to a national championship in his first season and a sweet sixteen in the second. 

While the players Haynes coached thrived on the court and credit him for their development, they praise him for much more. Outside of making sure that his players were ready for competition, his former players credit him for their development as men. 

Proof of that is just taking a look at his Instagram activity and the comments under the posts. Several days ago, Haynes wrote a post that backs this notion. Haynes wrote:

“Hanging banners and winning championships are cool, but the ultimate goal is to see these young men become leaders off the court and become great men, husbands, fathers, raising a family of their own, and making an impact in their communities. It’s nothing like getting a call saying ‘Coach, I’m about to propose to my girl,’ ‘Coach, I’m about to have a baby, [or] ‘thanks for showing me how to be a great man and father figure. This is my why! #BiggerThanBasketball”

Under that same post, you’ll see his former players echo those very sentiments, giving him his flowers. Heck, let’s really examine his time at Michigan. In those two years on the Wolverines’ coaching staff, his bond with his players was significant. When holidays such as Thanksgiving come around, one would think that players would travel home to be with their families. Not while Haynes was in Washtenaw county. Being the family man he is, players would often visit the Haynes household to spend their holiday(s) with him. 

That is the type of coach the Eagles athletics department needs. 

With the program needing to rebuild its image, they need a leader of men. Haynes has even had the respect of players he had to coach against, one being Cassius Winston. 

Haynes can improve EMU’s inner-city recruiting.

In a December 2020 interview with Woodward Sports, Haynes spoke about his relationship with Winston, pointing to them playing for the same AAU team at one point.

“When he just got drafted, he and I text back and forth, even though I had to coach against him. I played for The Family (AAU Basketball team). And I want every kid to succeed,” said Haynes.

For those who don’t know, playing for The Family is a big deal in the world of AAU basketball. Besides Haynes and Winston, notable alumni to play for them include Draymond Green, Miles Bridges, Kalin Lucas, Chris Douglass Roberts, and many more. 

Photo Credit: University of Maryland Athletics

Over the past several seasons, EMU has failed to tap into the city of Detroit recruiting-wise. Heck, it’s a wonder how much attention the program focuses on its AAU scouting. It’s evident by looking at their rosters for the past several seasons. Over the past three seasons, the Eagles have barely had one Detroit recruit. 

Deandre Haynes can fix that.

Mixing in his prior success as a coach and player, along with his AAU background and a connection to the inner-city, Haynes will be able to recruit talent to Eastern Michigan in a way that Rob Murphy couldn’t. 

There is no word on which direction Eastern Michigan will go in with its next hire for the men’s basketball coach. However, if they haven’t already secretly decided, bringing in DeAndre Haynes to lead the program would be an excellent decision. He checks every box to improve the culture of EMU athletics, not just its basketball program. 

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