If coming home once was nice and twice was better, then the third time is the best as University of Detroit Mercy Director of Athletics Robert C. Vowels, Jr. announced that former Titan standout basketball player and assistant coach Bacari Alexander ’99 will be the 21st head coach in Titan history.
The announcement was made on Friday morning with a press conference set for 11 a.m., inside historic Calihan Hall. Alexander’s hiring is also pending a standard human resources background check.
“It is with great honor and enthusiasm that I welcome coach Alexander and his family back to his home,” said Vowels. “We had many qualified and outstanding individuals as candidates for our head men’s basketball coach, but after a thorough and extensive search, none matched the experience, knowledge and passion for this University that he will bring.”
“Coach Alexander is recognized for excelling academically and athletically at his alma mater as a student and assistant coach,” said University of Detroit Mercy President Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi. “I feel confident that his example and leadership will be shared with our student-athletes so they can collectively achieve their goals in the classroom and on the basketball court.”
Alexander, who has served as an assistant coach with the University of Michigan for the last six seasons, was born and raised in the Motor City and transferred to Detroit for his final three years of college. He later began his coaching career at his alma mater after spending two years with the Harlem Globetrotters.
“My family and I are excited to rejoin the Titan family,” said Alexander. “Over the years, I have been able to work with a number of great mentors and coaches that have fully prepared me for this opportunity. I am excited to be able to work under the leadership Athletic Director Robert C. Vowels, Jr. and President Dr. Antoine Garibaldi and all of the staff at the University. This team is filled with potential and I can’t wait to work with all of our student-athletes.”
The pride of Detroit’s Southwestern High School, Alexander graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance. After starting his collegiate career at Robert Morris College from 1994-96, where he played in 55 games and was named to the Northeast Conference’s All-Newcomer Team as a freshman, he decided to transfer back home to Detroit. He would go on to start 57 of his 62 career games for the red, white and blue and helped Detroit reach championship heights on the hardwood as the Titans won back-to-back Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) regular-season titles. He also helped his alma mater earn NCAA Tournament bids in 1998 and 1999, where Detroit posted first round wins over St. John’s and nationally-ranked UCLA.
As a senior, Alexander was named to the MCC All-Defensive Team and received the President’s Award as UDM’s most outstanding senior student-athlete in 1999. He is still the last men’s basketball player to garner that accolade.
After college, he began a professional career working with the Detroit Pistons as a Player Programs Coordinator and then playing with the Harlem Globetrotters for two years before returning to UDM again as an assistant coach under Perry Watson. He spent six seasons (2001-07) on the sidelines next to his collegiate coach, helping Detroit post 96 wins and finishing over .500 in conference play five times. The Titans had three seasons with 18 or more wins, made four trips to the Horizon League Championship semifinals, one finals appearance and an NIT berth in 2002.
Alexander just finished his sixth season with Michigan under head coach John Beilein in 2015-16. In his six seasons, Alexander helped the Wolverines to five NCAA Tournament bids (2011, ’12, ’13, ’14 & ’16), with a trip to the 2013 Final Four and national title game — the first for the program in 20 years, followed by a return trip to the Elite Eight in 2014.
U-M averaged 24 wins per season in his tenure, including a school record tying 31 during the 2012-13 campaign. Michigan claimed a share of the 2012 Big Ten regular-season title with a 13-5 record — the first for the program since 1986 – and also helped the team win its first outright Big Ten title in 28 years in 2014 with a 15-3 record.
He worked and helped eight Wolverine players garner All-Big Ten honors — Darius Morris (2011), Trey Burke (2012 & ’13), Tim Hardaway Jr. (2012 & ’13), Nik Stauskas (2014), Caris LeVert (2014), Derrick Walton Jr. (2016) and Zak Irvin (2016). The Wolverines also had back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Years with Burke in 2013 and Stauskas in 2014. In addition, Burke went on to be named a consensus National Player of the Year and All-America honors in 2013.
During Alexander’s stint with U-M, six Wolverines reached the NBA: Morris (2011, No. 41 by Los Angeles Lakers), Burke (2013, No. 9 by Utah Jazz), Hardaway (2013, No. 24 by New York Knicks), Stauskas (2014, No. 8 by Sacramento Kings), Mitch McGary (2014, No. 21 by Oklahoma City Thunder) and Glenn Robinson III (2014, No. 40 by Minnesota Timberwolves).
Throughout his coaching career, Alexander has developed over 80 percent of his former frontcourt players to gain opportunities to play professional basketball at various levels.
Alexander came to Michigan after spending two seasons at Western Michigan (2008-10), where he worked with the Broncos’ frontcourt players. The Broncos would go on to win their second-straight MAC West Division championship in 2009. Prior to his work with the Broncos, he spent one season at Ohio University (2007-08), where the Bobcats won 20 games and made the second round of the College Basketball Invitational.
As a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, he toured in 13 countries while also directing several camps for the team around the United States. He also served as an “Advance Ambassador” for the Globetrotters, performing public relations duties, while making media and school appearances. In 2002, he along with all past and current Globetrotters were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In high school at Southwestern, he won a state championship as a freshman with his future college coach Perry Watson leading the way. As a senior, he was Third Team All-PSL by the Detroit Free Press and Honorable Mention All-Metro and All-State by the Detroit News. He was also Southwestern’s Scholar-Athlete award winner.
Photo Courtesy Detroit Athletics