University of Michigan David and Meredith Kaplan Men’s Basketball Coach Juwan Howard announced the hiring of Jay Smith as the Wolverines’ director of player personnel and development.
In addition to Smith’s return to U-M, Howard retained Chris Hunter as the program’s director of basketball operations and added David Metzendorf as the video analyst and Jaaron Simmons as the graduate manager.
“There are many people who have helped me throughout my career; however, Jay Smith is someone special who I have a deep connection with and the utmost respect for,” said Howard. “He has such an incredible passion for the game, and his ability to relate with young men is going to be something invaluable for us. We are very fortunate to have him return to Ann Arbor and join our staff.”
“There are always interesting twists in this game,” said Smith. “That can be said for this situation. I have been through plenty over the last few years and loved the opportunity Kalamazoo trusted in me. However, the chance to help out Juwan and return to Michigan is something my family and I are excited about and thankful for.”
Smith served an assistant coach for seven seasons (1989-96) at Michigan, where he helped the Wolverines to six NCAA Tournaments and assisted in recruiting what some consider to be “the greatest class ever recruited” in U-M’s famed “Fab Five.” During his time in Ann Arbor he aided in the coaching of All-Americans Rumeal Robinson, Loy Vaught, Terry Mills, Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Howard.
Prior to his return to Ann Arbor, Smith spent the last three seasons as the head coach at Kalamazoo College (2016-19). In his first season, he guided the Hornets to a four-win improvement, and in his third he guided the Hornets to a tie for sixth place in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), the program’s best finish since 2011.
Before returning to a head coaching role with Kalamazoo, Smith spent eight years (2008-16) as an assistant coach at the University of Detroit Mercy. Following a two-year absence from coaching, Smith was the head coach at Central Michigan for nine seasons, helping the Chippewas to a pair of Mid-American Conference (MAC) regular-season titles (2001, ’03), the 2003 MAC Tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the second round.
Before his tenure in Mount Pleasant, Smith earned his first head coaching job at Grand Valley State University in 1996-97. He guided the Lakers to a 23-6 record, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) regular-season and tournament championships, and an NCAA Division II Tournament appearance.
Hunter begins his sixth season with the Wolverines, spending the last three as the director of basketball operations. Metzendorf comes to Ann Arbor after spending the last three years at Holy Cross, first as director of basketball operations, then as an assistant coach this past season.
The Ann Arbor native graduated from Ann Arbor Pioneer in 2009 and worked as a summer intern with U-M from 2010-12. He began his coaching career as the special assistant to the head coach at Cornell (2013-14) before being moved up to an assistant coach (2014-16).
Instrumental in U-M’s second straight Big Ten Tournament title, run to the Final Four and national title game in 2018, Simmons returns to Ann Arbor after playing a year of professional basketball in Sweden. While assisting the program, he plans to complete work on his master’s degree in social work.