The Cleveland Cavaliers’ brass kept this pretty well under wraps. It was believed that there were two current NBA assistants rumored to be favored to land the job, but no mention of Beilein. The scuttlebutt flying around the league was that Denver Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez and San Antonio Spurs assistant Ime Udoka were out in front.
Coach Beilein has made four stops as a head coach in college basketball. His first was at Canisius College where he turned a team that went 8-22 into a team that reached the NCAA tournament and the NIT twice in his five seasons. Beilein then moved on to be the head coach of the Richmond Spiders. In five seasons, he reached the NCAA tournament once and NIT twice, just like at Canisius.
Jon Beilein’s third gig was his first power five job. In 2002, he was hired to coach the West Virginia Mountaineers. Beilein was at WVU for five years, just like his previous two stops. He posted a 104-60 record and led his team to two NCAA tournament berths, and two NIT berths. The Mountaineers made it all the way to the Elite Eight in the 2004-05 season despite entering the conference tournament on the bubble. The 2005-06 season saw another strong performance. WVU lost on a buzzer beater in the sweet sixteen to the second-seeded Texas Longhorns. The 2006-07 season would be Beilein’s final season at WVU, but he went out on a high note. The Mountaineers missed the NCAA tournament but won the NIT.
Coach Beilein turned the Michigan Wolverines into a top-level program. He took over a team from Tommy Amaker that failed to make the NCAA tournament in the past six seasons. Michigan missed the tournament in his first season at the helm, but made it in his second season and won their opening round game. The Wolverines and coach Beilein would go on to make the NCAA tournament in nine of his 12 seasons there. His best finish was in the 2017-18 season where they lost in the national title game to Louisville.
The best thing for the Cavaliers is John Beilein teams have always gotten better as the season has progressed. This is a sign of a coach that gets the team to buy in and a coach that develops players. The Cavaliers fan base should be very excited at the prospect of a coach developing young players as they will be picking high in the draft for the next few seasons. Beilein is, however, an unproven commodity at the NBA level. There have been examples in the past of successful college coaches who didn’t transition well. The hope for the Cleveland, and their fan base is that Jon Beilein can turn the franchise into a consistent winner.