An assistant coach at the University of Michigan for the last two years where the Wolverines advanced to back-to-back Sweet 16s including the 2018 National Championship game, Luke Yaklich has been named associate head coach at The University of Texas. The 43-year-old Yaklich brings 20 years of overall coaching experience to the sidelines. He replaces Darrin Horn, who became the head coach at Northern Kentucky University earlier this spring.
“I’m extremely excited about Luke joining our staff,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “He has tremendous passion for teaching the game and helping student-athletes move forward as people and players.
“His background as a head coach at the high school level for many years gives him a unique perspective in terms of the way he interacts with players,” Smart continued. “Luke is a true teacher. That word gets thrown around a lot, but he literally was in the classroom for nearly 15 years and still thinks of himself that way.
“Luke has a phenomenal work ethic and a consistent drive to help his teams be successful,” Smart said. “He’s a good fit for our staff because he brings a passion and commitment to all the little things and the details that go into making a program successful. He is not in any way afraid to roll up his sleeves and do whatever is needed.”
Yaklich worked the previous two seasons as an assistant coach under John Beilein at Michigan. During his time in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines compiled an overall record of 63-15 (.808) and advanced to the 2018 NCAA Championship game and the 2019 NCAA Round of 16.
In his first season at Michigan (2017-18), Yaklich helped transform the team’s defensive plan and helped Michigan post a 33-8 record. The 33 wins marked a single-season program record. Michigan won four games in four days to win the Big Ten Tournament title and added five wins in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Villanova in the NCAA Championship game.
The Wolverines ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense (63.3 ppg allowed) in 2017-18. Michigan also led the Big Ten in scoring defense for the first time since 1964 and ranked third in Defensive Efficiency by the KenPom ratings (90.5).
Michigan registered a 30-7 mark in 2018-19, earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 before falling to Texas Tech. The Wolverines ranked second nationally in scoring defense (57.7 ppg allowed) and second in KenPom’s ratings (86.2) and led the Big Ten in scoring defense.
Prior to his arrival at Michigan, Yaklich spent four years (2013-17) at his alma mater, Illinois State University, under head coach Dan Muller. The relationship between Yaklich and Muller went back to their time together as students at Illinois State in 1996. Yaklich served as a men’s basketball manager/student assistant from 1996-98 while Muller played on the team in his final two seasons. The duo helped Illinois State to two Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament titles and trips to the NCAA Tournament in 1997 and 1998.
During Yaklich’s four seasons on the coaching staff at Illinois State, the Redbirds tallied an 86-50 (.632) record and advanced to a pair of National Invitation Tournaments (2015 and 2017) and one College Basketball Invitational (2014). Before the start of the 2016-17 season, Yaklich earned a promotion to the role of associate head coach. The Redbirds posted a 28-7 overall mark, including a 17-1 record in the MVC. Illinois State set single-season program records for overall wins (28), regular-season victories (25) and conference wins (17).
In addition to his coaching duties at Illinois State, Yaklich was the point person for men’s basketball academics along with assisting in recruiting, scouting and skill development. In the fall of 2014, the Redbirds set a team grade point average record (2.99 GPA), breaking the previous mark by 0.13 points. Justin McCloud later earned a spot on the 2016 MVC Scholar-Athlete second team.
Prior to his time at Illinois State, Yaklich worked as a high school head coach and teacher for 14 years, primarily teaching U.S. history at the high school level. He was head boys’ basketball coach at Joliet Township High School (Joliet, Ill.) for six seasons, three in the combined Joliet Township program and three at Joliet West), while also coaching the Joliet Pride and Illinois Wolves AAU teams.
During his final season at Joliet West (2012-13), Yaklich led the Tigers to the IHSA Class 4A Lockport Regional title with a 19-8 mark and advanced to the sectional semifinals. He also guided the 2009-10 Joliet Township team to a 24-8 record and the Homewood-Flossmoor Sectional Championship. He earned 2010 District 9 Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Coach of the Year honors. In his six seasons in Joliet, he tallied an overall record of 104-62 (.627).
Before his time at Joliet, Yaklich served as the head boys’ basketball coach at La Salle-Peru Township High School (La Salle, Ill.) from 2003-07, the head boys’ basketball coach at Sterling High School (Sterling, Ill.) from 2000-03 and the head girls’ basketball coach at La Salle-Peru in 1999-2000.
A native of LaSalle, Ill., Yaklich was a 1994 graduate of La Salle-Peru Township High School, where he played basketball for the Cavaliers. He graduated from Illinois State in 1998, earning a Bachelor of Science degree with endorsements for American and world history, sociology, political science and geography.
He also earned two master’s degrees from Olivet Nazarene University (Bourbonnais, Ill.). Yaklich received his Master of Education in 2004 and followed in 2009 with a Master of Education Administration. He also became a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) for social studies in 2012.
Yaklich (born May 8, 1976) and his wife, Amy, have three children, Olivia, Griffin and Taylor.
“Throughout my coaching career, I’ve always aspired to continue to grow,” Yaklich said. “Part of that growth process for me was to study great coaches who build their programs around a culture. I studied what Coach Smart had done at VCU when I was a high school coach and continued to follow him at Texas when I began coaching in college. When Coach Beilein accepted the Cleveland Cavaliers job and this position was open, I talked to Coach Smart about what he was looking for with this position and became incredibly excited about this opportunity to coach at The University of Texas.
“I am really blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity to impact the student-athletes at The University of Texas and help continue to build the culture here,” Yaklich continued. “I want to help us become the best possible defensive team that we can and work with each of our student-athletes on a daily basis to help them grow on and off the court. Ultimately, we want to win Big 12 Conference titles, get to the NCAA Tournament and advance, and play for a National Championship.”