'Big impact': Juwan Howard's NBA credentials open eyes of potential Michigan recruits
Charlottesville, Va. — Three weeks after Juwan Howard made a splashy return to Michigan, the waves are still rippling.
Howard made the first stop of his summer recruiting tour on Thursday and was part of the throng of college coaches at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp at the University of Virginia.
And among the collection of the nation’s top 2020 and 2021 prospects, the buzz of Howard’s hiring hasn’t subsided.
“There’s been a lot (of buzz),” 2020 forward Jace Howard, Juwan’s son, said. “I was getting recruited by (former coach John) Beilein so at first that was like a step back for me. All my friends and top prospects, I'm trying to help pops out a little bit like, ‘Yo, how about that school up north?' I'm trying to give my little pitch and help Pops out a little bit because he's new to this recruiting thing.”
But a familial assist might not be needed.
That’s because Jace said his father’s accolades at every level — McDonald’s All-American in high school, two-time All-American in college, two-time champion in the NBA — speak louder than any of his words ever could.
“He has played with LeBron (James), lived with Michael Jordan for a summer, played with D-Wade (Dwyane Wade). He's been a franchise player all the way to the last player on the bench so his ability to relate to different players is big,” Jace said. “It's a huge start for a young kid trying to learn this game and try to eventually make money off this game in pros, overseas or wherever that person chooses to do, so his experience is very intriguing for young prospects to want to look at it.”
And Jace, who has a unique perspective and knows his dad better than any other recruit, has no qualms about Juwan’s ability to lure top talent to Ann Arbor.
"I feel like he's going to do very well because he ran an AAU program, so he's been around my friends, my teammates and he knows how they think. He knows what goes in our mind,” Jace said. “He's been a recruit before, so he knows how to relate to players. He's been in their shoes so when you're in those shoes and you know what they're thinking, you know how to coach them well and he's been coaching for the past six years now (with the Miami Heat).”
Couple his longtime NBA career with his work developing Miami’s big men, the mere mention of Juwan’s name is appealing for 2020 four-star centers like Dain Dainja and Mady Sissoko.
Dainja and Sissoko said they both view Michigan differently — in a good way — and find it more beneficial to have a former pro as a coach. Dainja’s father, Dana Jackson, even went up against Howard in college when he played at Minnesota.
“It does help a lot,” Sissoko said. “You learn from them. They have great experience and they want you to learn.
“It makes them (Michigan) bigger in my eyes. It just opens my mind when they’re talking to me.”
Detroit native and five-star forward Isaiah Jackson, who is ranked the nation’s No. 17 overall recruit for 2020 by 247Sports, has no shortage of offers and has heard from schools across the country.
But Jackson said Howard’s resume makes Michigan stand out a little bit more and heightens his interest in the Wolverines.
“I think that'll have a big impact,” Jackson said. “Being around pros helps anybody. Talking to them about anything, like how the game is, the competitiveness, the outside part of it, everything.
“But everybody wants to see what he's going to do at Michigan. Hopefully next year he'll keep things going because Beilein did a good job.”
And Jackson isn’t the only one who will be watching. Several Michigan targets who previously received offers from Beilein and his staff are in wait-and-see mode.
Zach Loveday, a four-star center from Huntington (West Virginia) Prep, said he felt a connection with Beilein and his departure to the NBA gave him pause.
"I really liked the way his system was, the way I fit into it,” Loveday said. “For him to kind of up and leave, that really shook me a little bit. I took a step back and reevaluated what I thought about their program so far.”
While it’s still unclear what type of system or style of play Howard will implement, Loveday said he thinks Howard will be a good fit even though he doesn’t know enough about him yet as a coach.
“Hopefully I get to learn a lot about him soon in a month or two that I still am open to recruiting, but I would like to know what kind of guys he recruits because I know Coach B was one of those guys who got high-character guys, he had a lot of shooting offense and I really liked that,” Loveday said. “I'd like to see if the offense stays that way or if it changes.”
Similarly, Michigan commit Zeb Jackson said he and fellow target Jabri Abdur-Rahim want to see how everything plays out over the year and what alterations are made under Howard’s reign.
Micah Peavy, a four-star wing from Duncanville (Texas) High who also holds an offer, said Michigan has reached out to him since the coaching change and he has mostly been in contact with assistant Saddi Washington, but he wants to see Howard’s “vision.”
How recruits see Howard, though, seems to be clear in the early going.
"That's a huge hire," Jackson said. "I think he brings a lot of energy — before the season has even started he's brought a lot of energy back to Michigan and a lot of people are excited."