LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – For anyone who’s familiar with Dwayne Stephens’ coaching journey you know this day has been a long time coming for him and his family.

Better known as Tom Izzo’s right-hand man, Stephens has been a part of Michigan State’s basketball staff for 19 seasons while serving as the Spartans’ associate head coach for the last ten. Now he has a program he can call his own.

Western Michigan has named Stephens its next head men’s basketball coach, pending Board approval. A source confirmed his hiring with 6 Sports Director Audrey Dahlgren earlier on Monday. WMU plans to formally introduce Stephens on Wednesday, April 6 at a press conference inside University Arena.

Stephens is replacing Clayton Bates after Western Michigan decided to part ways with him in March after two years as the Broncos’ head coach.

Even though this is Stephens’ first head coaching gig he is taking a wealth of knowledge to Kalamazoo with him. A four-year letter winner from 1989-93 at MSU, Stephens has coached in 20 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and reached the Final Four six times. Five were with MSU. He also went to the Final Four with Marquette in 2003 when he was an assistant under Tom Crean.

His knowledge, and experience, is one thing that separated him from what WMU said was “a competitive candidate pool.”

WMU also loves his reputation as one of the nation’s most elite recruiters.

“To say that I’m happy for Dwayne to get the opportunity to be a head coach and run the program at Western Michigan would be a vast understatement. Dwayne has been more than ready to run his own program for a long time, and I think Western Michigan is getting an all-star,” said Tom Izzo.

Crean also offered quite a compliment.

“DJ is an absolute home run hire for Western Michigan. His knowledge of basketball and thirst for recruiting is outstanding,” said Crean. “I hadn’t seen him in practice in a long time, and was blown away by his leadership and passion recently when I saw the Spartans practice. He’s got the whole package. DJ helped us build Marquette basketball from a .500 team to a conference champion and Final Four program. With his work with us and the last 19 years at MSU, he’s absolutely prepared, ready and excited about building Western Michigan into what it can become. “

This is now the second year in a row where Izzo will have to replace a longtime assistant on his coaching staff after Dane Fife left in April of last year to go back to his alma mater, Indiana.

Fife left nearly a year ago to the day.