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Posted on Thu, Jun 10, 2010 : 7:28 p.m.

New Michigan assistant basketball coach LaVall Jordan returning to his roots

By Michael Rothstein

LaVall Jordan learned everything he could about the Michigan basketbal team, and his interest had nothing to do with becoming the Wolverines’ next assistant coach.

It was his job when he was at Iowa. He had the advance scout of the Wolverines last year.

“I did, I did, funny enough,” Jordan said. “So don’t hold that against me. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

After being a finalist for the job filled by Bacari Alexander last month, Jordan finally arrived Wednesday when Michigan head coach John Beilein named him as the replacement for departed assistant Mike Jackson.

Jordan was the only person Beilein spoke with this time around as he was extremely close to hiring Jordan last time.

“Virtually couldn’t make up my mind for almost two days and finally said ‘Big man coach, this is what we really, although I felt he could do this, I wanted this situation where a guy with Michigan roots could coach big men,’” Beilein said. “But I thought at that time that if ever I would need a perimeter coach, this would be a guy I would look to.”

So he reached out immediately and although it caused a kerfluffle with Western Michigan, where Jordan was about to be officially hired as an assistant, got his guy.

For Jordan, it was almost a no-brainer. He grew up in Albion as a Michigan fan, the 31-year-old following the Wolverines as a kid during the days of Glen Rice, Rumeal Robinson and the Fab Five.

“I’m like a kid in the candy store right now,” Jordan said.

Now, he’ll get to sell the program he grew up watching. Beilein said recruiting areas haven’t been identified yet for Meyer, Alexander and Jordan, although based on what he has said previously, Meyer would likely continue to recruit nationally and Alexander would focus on in-state recruiting.

He already showed he could recruit Michigan, pulling Roy Marble Jr. out of the state last year to Iowa. It helped Marble Jr. is the son of Iowa legend Roy Marble, but he maintained the relationship.

No matter where he recruits, one of his strengths is being able to relate to players. He was a starting guard at Butler and is not that far removed from being a college player himself having graduated from the school in 2001.

“I think the kids can relate to him, they can identify with him when they are talking to him and they say ‘I’m listening to Weezy on my iPod,’ some coaches aren’t going to have a clue what that is. LaVall is going to know that’s Lil Wayne,” said Jamie Johnson, the AAU coach of the Iowa Barnstormers. “So he’s going to identify and relate and connect with young people and he did a good job with it. It’s kind of a tough sell sometimes,
especially here (in Iowa) without having a large metro city to recruit from in your own
backyard, you have to go elsewhere.

“But I think, in a different setting, I think it’ll be a lot easier for him. It won’t be as hard of a sell. Again, I think and what what I know from him, he’s a people’s person, he’s a player’s coach, he can relate to kids.”

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein