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Western Michigan’s Steve Hawkins calls on a familiar face to complete coaching staff

Steve Hawkins

Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins reacts in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kent State in the Mid-American Conference men’s quarterfinals Thursday, March 8, 2012, in Cleveland. Kent State won 76-72. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)


With assistant coach Rick Carter deciding to leave the Western Michigan program for a position at Missouri, WMU head coach Steve Hawkins had a vacancy on his coaching staff.

Ultimately it was familiarity that won out for Hawkins, leading him to fill the opening by welcoming Clayton Bates back to Kalamazoo.

This is Bates’ third go-round at Western Michigan as he was an assistant on both Rob McCullum and Hawkins’ staffs from 2001-08, and he returned to Hawkins’ staff for the 2009-10 campaign after spending a year away from basketball.

“I’m very excited to have Clayton return to our staff,” Hawkins said in the school release. “When I looked at what we needed, it came down to two things, familiarity and loyalty. Those are two attributes that I know Clayton brings to the table. He’s a person I would hire 100 times out of 100.”

“Clayton is an experienced coach with the reputation of being a tireless worker with a high-energy personality. Those are qualities that will be important as we work with so many younger players on the team.”

Bates spent the last two seasons on Billy Donlon’s staff at Wright State, and part of the motivation for that move was his desire to
one day become a head coach.

Bates said Thursday he still has aspirations of being a head coach one day but he feels he did broaden his horizons after spending last season on Billy Donlon’s staff at Wright State.

“I still want to be a head coach,” Bates said. “That hasn’t changed. Also, what I told Graham at the time was that I wanted to grow as a coach and improve my recruiting contacts in all areas and I feel I’ve done that. I feel I’ve branched out and recruited in other states and out of Midwest and I think that’s made me a better coach.

“Working under coach Donlon at Wright State, they do things a lot differently than we do at Western Michigan. That was very good for me to see and learn some. It was a great experience for me at Wright State.”

The more varied the experiences the better but after two seasons in Dayton, Bates has decided that a return to Kalamazoo was for the best.

WMU will be a very young team this season, with eight freshmen and three sophomores on the roster.

The good news is that they took a trip to Europe (2-2 record) this summer to help with the growing curve, something that’s needed if they’re improve upon their 14-20 2011-12 campaign.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.