Smothers named new Head Basketball Coach at Wayne State University

Photo Courtesy Wayne State Athletics

Wayne State University Director of Athletics Rob Fournier has announced WSU Hall of Fame player Bryan Smothers as the next men’s basketball head coach for the Warriors.  He will become the 10th head coach in program history which enters its 106th season this fall. 

“Bryan has everything I was looking for in our next head coach,” stated Fournier.  “He has worked under various systems and coaches who I respect.  He understands and has demonstrated the hard work and commitment to be successful.  He has a proven ability as a recruiter and knows Detroit and Michigan.  

“I have followed Bryan’s career, first as a student-athlete when he was our captain and led us to a championship, and then as he has progressed under the direction of such accomplished basketball coaches as David Greer, John Beilein, and Greg Paulus.   

“He understands the college student-athlete and has that unique ability to motivate and teach.  And, as an aside, after 105 years, and recognizing all the great basketball student-athletes who have played for Wayne State over the years, including four former members of the Harlem Globetrotters and current New York Knicks GM Scott Perry, it is good to see one of our own direct the program.” 

Smothers becomes just the third full-time head coach in the last 34 years following the back-to-back all-time winningest coaches in Ron Hammye (212 wins) and then David Greer (266 wins). 

Smothers, a 2020 inductee into the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame, returns to Detroit after serving the last three years as an assistant coach for Greg Paulus at Niagara University.  During his tenure with the Purple Eagles, he was responsible for player development, recruiting, scouting, and advising.  Smothers worked primarily with the guards and was influential in the development of Marcus Hammond as he earned 2019-20 All-MAAC First Team honors. 

Prior to heading to New York, Smothers spent five years at the University of Michigan under John Beilein.  He was a graduate assistant from 2014-16 before being elevated to the program’s video analyst for his final three seasons.  During his time in Ann Arbor, Smothers directed all aspects of U-M’s video program, including opponent scout preparation, player development videos, recruit film evaluations and analytics.  He was a part of four straight NCAA Tournament teams including the 2018 national runner-up.  

Smothers was selected to the 2019 Under Armour 30-Under-30 Team, which represents 30 of the most outstanding men’s college basketball coaches under the age of 30. 

Before joining the Wolverines, he was on David Greer’s staff for three seasons, which included an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013.

As a student athlete, Smothers was a four-year basketball letterwinner (2007-11) for the Warriors, who became just the second player in school history to record 1,100 points, 300 assists and 300 rebounds, joining 2006 Hall of Fame inductee Art Johnson in this select category.  He ranked 10th in career scoring at WSU with 1,175 points, when his collegiate career concluded.  Smothers was second in both free throw percentage (.854 – but had 135 more attempts than No. 1) and minutes played (3,249), seventh in three-pointers made (129), steals (147) and games started (86), and eighth in both free throws made (276) and assists (308). 

As a senior, Smothers was selected to the All-Region Second Team by both the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) and Daktronics after receiving All-GLIAC South Division First Team and All-Defensive Team accolades.  He earned 2011 GLIAC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors after helping the Warriors to their first post-season title since 1999.  Smothers had back-to-back 20-point efforts in wins over Hillsdale and Findlay, followed by an 11-point, nine-assist performance in the Championship game victory at Ferris State. 

His 151 assists as a senior is the fourth-highest total in school history, while his 1,110 minutes played is third all-time.  Smothers scored in double figures 58 times in his Warrior career, with 18 games of at least 20 points. 

A native of Pontiac, Mich., Smothers earned his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Wayne State and later received a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.  He and his wife Sandy are the parents of two boys, Santana and Sebastian.

What they are saying about Bryan Smothers

Greg Paulus, Head Coach, Niagara University 
“I could not be happier for Bryan and his family.  Bryan is a principled leader and an outstanding teacher and communicator.  His work ethic and passion for people made our program better and helped develop our student-athletes on and off the court.  I am thankful for all he did during his time at Niagara University and looking forward to seeing the success he will bring as he goes home to his alma mater.” 

2004-07 – Three-year starter for Pontiac Northern High School
2007-11 – Started 86 of 101 games played for Wayne State
2011-14 – Spent three seasons on David Greer’s staff at Wayne State
2014-19 – Spent five seasons as a member of John Beilein’s staff at Michigan
2019-22 – Served the last three years on Greg Paulus’s staff at Niagara

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