New UM hoops coach Juwan Howard celebrates 'right guys' for his first coaching staff

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Juwan Howard has hired his basketball coaching staff.

With his staff in place, new Michigan men's basketball coach Juwan Howard is ready to dive into busy summer recruiting and plans to visit a number of camps across the country.

Howard said during an appearance this week on the “Attack Each Day Harbaughs’ Podcast” that he took his time deciding on his assistants that include Phil Martelli, a 24-year college head coach veteran, along with Howard Eisley, a Detroit native and former NBA assistant. He also retained Saddi Washington, who spent the last three seasons on John Beilein’s Michigan staff, as well as respected strength coach Jon Sanderson.

“I wanted to make sure I had the right guys in place to be there to help serve the players,” Howard said on the podcast that posted Tuesday morning. “I took my time picking my staff. I wanted to pick the right guys I could learn from, work with, be in the trenches with, but also have experience at the collegiate level in coaching, recruiting and last but not least, have the respect level as a person, a human being. This is a special staff. I believe these guys are grinders, they’re hard workers.”

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He discussed each assistant beginning with Washington.

“People in the Detroit area know he’s a solid guy with a big heart, hard worker, he’s smart,” Howard said. “Saddi also is a great recruiter. He has proven that. Saddi also has been a guy who’s been a star on Coach Beilein’s staff. I think he got a chance to show that last year in Spain when they went on that European tour.  Saddi will definitely will complement our staff.

“Phil is awesome. He’s a star, too. For all the experience he has throughout the years in college basketball, 24 years as head coach at St. Joe’s, 10 years as assistant coach for St. Joe’s, his proven track record as a winner, not only on the floor, but he’s also been a winner with a lot of players he has coached. A lot of his players have always spoken on his behalf and said he’s a great guy, a father figure, a guy they trust and believe in. I wanted to have experience on my bench, a former coach. I will learn a lot from a guy like Phil.

"Howard Eisley, another guy from Detroit. Went to Southwestern. Howard has played professionally in the NBA for over 12 years, also he has coached in the NBA for over six years. He’s a quality person, hard worker, innovative mind, smart and more importantly he’s a good person. I’m looking forward to working with all of them.”

Keeping Sanderson on staff was significant on many levels, Howard said.

“The guys, they know Jon. Jon’s body of work has been proven,” he said. “I had a chance personally last year when I came to campus when my son was here for Beilein’s basketball camp. I stopped in and got a chance to meet Jon and he explained some of the things he does with the players from a strength and conditioning standpoint. I was impressed overall. The Michigan players were so far ahead of a lot of programs out there. Jon’s a very smart guy, but he’s also a former basketball player and that was a huge plus for me, too. Every player, the body types are so different.

"Jon is a rock star in that area. I thought he’d be so valuable with our players for the future of the program, and I did not want to change that up whatsoever. I was fortunate John agreed to the retainment.”

Howard said he’s been busy packing for his move to Ann Arbor but acknowledged that things will get busier in July when the recruiting tournaments heat up.

More: Michigan announces Martelli, Washington, Eisley as Howard's assistant coaches

He’s already been working the phones trying to land recruits at Michigan.

“Unofficial visits are planned, coming up soon,” he said on the podcast. “As far as official visits, I’ve been on the phone recruiting. I have one player that’s committed to come (visit) in the fall, which I’m very excited about. I actually invited him to come to a football game, because I want him to get that true Michigan experience, what it’s like to be on campus while the students are there, while a football game’s happening that weekend, also when players are back playing basketball and competing. He’s looking forward to it. I can’t wait to get him up to campus. I think this kid can be really special.”

He and his staff will be able to start watching players in person on Thursday.

They will head to Charlottesville, Va., for the National Basketball Players’ Association Top-100 camp. Howard also said they will be at the Adidas Gauntlet tournament in Anaheim and several in Georgia during July.

Twitter: @chengelis