On Friday morning, previous reports of Michigan assistant coach Luke Yaklich joining Shaka Smart’s staff with the Texas Longhorns became official, as the program announced the addition of Yaklich as an associate head coach.
After spending the previous two seasons at Michigan, Yaklich’s name surfaced as a candidate to replace former Texas assistant Darrin Horn, now the head coach at Northern Kentucky, after long-time Michigan head coach John Beilein accepted the same role with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Following this movement on each staff, Yaklich met with Smart and Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte in Austin two weeks ago.
Yaklich was also a candidate to replace Beilein and remain with the Wolverines, but Michigan ultimately hired Juwan Howard on May 22, which paved the way for Yaklich to join Smart and the Longhorns.
“I’m extremely excited about Luke joining our staff,” Smart said in a release. “He has tremendous passion for teaching the game and helping student-athletes move forward as people and players.
“Luke has a phenomenal work ethic and a consistent drive to help his teams be successful,” Smart added. “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.”
The 43-year-old Yaklich brings 20 years of coaching experience; 14 of which came as a high school head coach and teacher. His first college coaching stint followed with Yaklich returning to his alma mater and joining Dan Muller’s staff at Illinois State. During his four seasons at Illinois State, Yaklich helped guide the Redbirds to an 86-50 record and two trips to the NIT in 2015 and 2017.
Most recently, Yaklich has been credited with transforming the Michigan defense.
During his debut season in Ann Arbor, Michigan won 33 games, the Big Ten Tournament, and made an appearance in the NCAA Championship game thanks in large part to a defense that ranked third in KenPom’s defensive efficiency (90.5) and eighth nationally in scoring defense (63.3 ppg). Last season, the Wolverines took another step forward defensively, finishing second in both KenPom’s defensive efficiency rating (86.2) and scoring defense (57.7) while winning 30 games and reaching the Sweet 16.
This two-season stretch marked the first time Michigan has posted back-to-back 30-win seasons.
“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.”