Detroit native and current Maryland men’s basketball assistant coach DeAndre Haynes is more than just his job title. He’s also a father, mentor, role model, and visionary.
When you look up the bio of DeAndre Haynes on the Maryland Terrapins staff directory, the first sentence reads, “Widely regarded as one of the fastest rising coaches in the country…”
Judging by his coaching career trajectory, it’s a hard point to argue.
Before Maryland, Haynes had previous assistant coaching stints at Kent State (his alma mater), Toledo, and the University of Michigan. And at each of those coaching stops, he built quite the reputation for being a player’s coach, especially at Michigan. Haynes, who is in his second season with the Terrapins men’s basketball team, spoke with Woodward Sports on his time at Michigan, his current success at Maryland, his views on Detroit’s omission as a basketball mecca, and more.
Kory Woods (KW): Thank you, Dre, for taking the time to talk with me. Let’s get right into it. Before Maryland, you were an assistant coach at Michigan for two years. Michigan will travel to play Maryland on December 31st. Your team will travel to face Michigan at Crisler Center on January 19th next year. How will it feel to see some of your old players when they come to visit you at Maryland, and then when you visit Michigan for the first time since leaving?
Dre Haynes (DH): Last year, you know how everything went. I have to say it was all in God’s plan because you know the situation that happened to me, and coming here was a blessing. Then we end up having to play Michigan for the championship. And you know I’m close with Sadie Washington on the staff. And he’s like, “Man, y’all better beat Rutgers. Y’all better beat Michigan State, cause I don’t want it to come down to us, [Maryland and Michigan] for y’all to win.”
They [Michigan] weren’t in the race for the championship, and we [Maryland] were. So I was really happy that they came here first instead of me going there for that game. That feeling alone preparing for that game that week, you know, my heart was racing because I wanted to win that game really bad. And for two, I had built some strong relationships with those players and a few guys from that staff. We’re like a family.
At the end of the game, Sadie and I kinda shed a tear a little bit. He won’t tell you that, but he’s excited for me, and the players were excited for me. They said if they had to lose any game, they’d rather lost that to us [Maryland], knowing that I was their guy. That right there alone shows you what kind of character those guys have and what kind of relationships we built in the two years I was there with that team.
KW: Talk about your relationship with your former players and your current players. How important is it for a coach, whether you’re the head coach or the assistant coach, to have that bond with players like you do? You even have a relationship with Michigan State’s Cassius Winston, who you coached against in games. What does it mean for you to have those relationships with so many players that you do?
DH: To me, that’s what this thing is all about. Our job as coaches is to be the leaders and mentor these young men [and] to help them. To help groom them. No matter if you are coaching them or not. I still have relationships with every manager that I had an opportunity to coach under and be a part of each program. When I left, when the thing happened in Michigan, I had more players reach out to me and say, “you know what, coach? I wish I had a player like you.” One being Dak Dakich from Ohio State. And I saved that message that he sent me, and that right there showed me that I was on the right track and I was doing the right thing when it comes to players.
The one thing I love about being a coach is when your players leave your program, they call you and say, “Hey coach! I’m going to propose to my girlfriend” or “Hey coach, I’m bout to my first baby. Thank you for showing me how to be a father. And how to be a man and how to treat a woman and your kids.” That’s what I get out of it, you know.
KW: And about Cassius [Winston]?
DH: When he just got drafted, he and I text back and forth, even though I had to coach against him. I played for The Family (AAU Basketball team). And I want every kid to succeed. I want every young man to succeed in some way. Whether it’s in basketball, you being a doctor, a lawyer, engineer, whatever it is. I want to be there to support them. That’s what this is all about. You don’t just use these kids for basketball. When these parents drop their kids, these young men at your university become like your family. And I tell my players I love em, and they tell me they love me. It’s all about love.
It’s about sharing that experience and making them feel like they’re at home. When they go through something, I’m most of the time, the first one they call. And that’s just off the relationship that I build with them where they can trust me and come to me about any issue, any problem, any good news, or any bad news. To me, that’s what being a leader is about, being true to yourself.
KW: I want to take a quick detour and get into some pro basketball. The Detroit Pistons have signed hometown native Josh Jackson. It’s no secret that Josh Jackson has a checkered past. From your familiarity with him, whether it’s knowing him personally or watching his game from afar, what do you think of him coming home and playing for the Pistons?
DH: Hopefully, with the city behind him, his ex-coaches, and his family, he can come clear his mind and play free without any distractions. I think he’s going to love coming back home to play in front of his family. For him, it’s just keeping himself out of the way and being locked in on what’s most important, which is winning a championship for the city of Detroit.
And I think they [Pistons] have a great talent. When it comes to Josh Jackson, man, the sky’s the limit for him. You know he’s, he’s a stud out there. I know everybody when seen the signing happen, everyone was excited for him to come back. So I say he has to stay awake, don’t hang out as much, and be locked in with his team, players, coach, staff, and just do what’s right. He’s going to have a successful career in Detroit.
KW: Let’s get back to college basketball. With there limited or no fans able to attend games this season, how do you feel that will impact games in the Big Ten this season? Granted, players still have to go out and play the game, of course. But, more than any other sport, college sports needs its fans.
DH: Right now, I feel it’s like AAU. You got some teams that are going to play every day. You got some teams that are going to play every other day. The Big Ten teams lead the country in attendance when it comes to basketball. I think the one thing it will allow is your freshmen or your newcomers to play with no pressure. I remember my first game, and everybody can tell you this. When we [Kent State] played against Rhode Island on the road and took my first dribble, I felt like I was in cement. I couldn’t move. And I played with Antonio Gates, another Detroit guy that will be a Hall of Famer with the San Diego Chargers. He came in and saved me, calmed me down, and took over. He was the point-forward at Kent State. I think that with no fans, many players are going to be able to play their games and not play so uptight.
I just told someone a story about when I was at Kent State. We scrimmaged West Virginia or would play Michigan in our first scrimmages, and we’d come out, and we’d just whip on em. And that’s just the truth. We’d whip on em because we didn’t have any pressure. I feel like that’s how it’s going to be. You will see lots of upsets this year. And it’s because some teams will probably take the lower teams for granted, get out there, get comfortable, and catch an L. I think you’ll still see great basketball. You will see kids play stress-free because when you got that crowd involved, it can rattle some players. A lot of kids who come to college basketball are not used to having fans yell at them and people saying, “you suck,” so I think it’s going to be beneficial for an incoming freshman.
KW: Let’s talk about the Meccas of basketball. There’s a ton of chatter about basketball legends hailing from places like Chicago or New York. From your perspective, in these discussions about cities that produce great basketball players, why is the city of Detroit overlooked? There are a lot of great players that came from here as well.
DH: Well, I don’t know. It is so much talent in the city of Detroit. I did recognize in the last couple of years that a lot of the talented people from Detroit end up leaving the city. You got Jaden Hardy right now, who’s out in Las Vegas. He’s an NBA prospect; a kid can be a first or top-five draft pick from Detroit. It’s a lot of kids who end up going to these prep high schools from the city. That’s what’s happening right now to me that you don’t hear a lot of people talk about specific players from the city, but it’s a lot of talent that’s up and coming in the city of Detroit. But we have to keep them home.
When I played in the public school league, it was a high-major player on the floor in every game you played. It was a Chris Douglas-Roberts type player or a Jordan Crawford type player on the floor. That’s the kind of players that were playing every night. Moe Ager was out there when I played. Before that, there were players before our time that many people talked about. We all stayed home and wanted to play and represent our city. But I think people have moved on, going to these prep schools or moving out of the city and state to play other places. If we [Detroit] can keep some of this young talent home and do right by them, I think that the city can be another mecca and get back on track with that. I have seen a lot right now that I love in the city that I am trying to recruit to Maryland. So we’ll see. I think we are right there with some guys still that can rep the Detroit well.
KW: Dre, thanks again for taking the time to speak with us. Good luck on the season.
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