When John Beilein was hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers away from Michigan, one of the top coaching jobs in the Big Ten and really a top-notch job in all of college basketball became available and the Wolverines acted fairly quickly having different names linked to them. One of the top ones linked to the job was Ed Cooley, but he decided to pass up the job to stay at Providence and then Michigan decided to bring back one of their own by making Juwan Howard the next head basketball coach at Michigan.
Howard had a very long and productive NBA career that saw him average 13.4 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game in 19 seasons. Before that he was of course a member of the historic “Fab Five” group at Michigan where he scored over 1,500 points and grabbed nearly 750 rebounds.
After his NBA playing career was over, Howard jumped straight into coaching as an assistant for the Miami Heat, which is the team he ended his career with.
It’s easy to think that Michigan just made this move because Howard played at the school and to think for that reason this isn’t the right move. But Howard is coming in with coaching experience at least, but with that being said there are drastic differences between being an assistant coach in the NBA and running a program in college basketball.
Howard will be taking over a roster in flux as well. Charles Matthews was a senior last season so he is gone, and Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis are both going to be staying in the NBA Draft.
The recruiting class that will be freshman this season is also not very strong with four-star forward Jalen Wilson decommitting last week and the only recruit currently committed is four-star forward Cole Bajema, who has signed his letter of intent.
It’ll be important for Howard to come in and try and salvage this recruiting class while also trying to build his recruiting connections going forward.
Penny Hardaway is having a ton of success on the recruiting trail as a former NBA coach and it’s not fair to expect Juwan Howard to pull in the number one class in the nation, but I think he will be able to recruit.
Overall there is risk with this move because Howard has never been a head coach at any level, let alone in college where there are a lot of ancillary things that the coach has to do.
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