Michigan's Juwan Howard racks up conference, national accolades
The honors are starting to pour in for Michigan’s Juwan Howard.
Howard, in his second season, was named the Big Ten coach of the year on Tuesday after guiding the Wolverines to their first conference regular-season title in seven years.
He’s first Michigan coach to earn the award since John Beilein in 2014 and fourth in program history, joining Johnny Orr (twice) and Bill Frieder.
Howard was also named the Big Ten’s top coach by The Associated Press — receiving 14 of 15 votes — and earned national recognition as Sporting News’ coach of the year.
"With the success that we've had — you hear the word I say we, because it's not just myself,” Howard said Monday. “I first have to give credit to the players for believing in me, believing in the vision, believing in the culture.
“Then I have to give a lot of credit to our staff. Yes, I assembled all of them. I strategically thought that this would be the right group to work with and to learn from. They're learning from me and I'm learning from them. We’re bringing together collective of wonderful ideas that we think will work to give us the best chance to win, to give our team an identity that we feel would be a tough competitive team. …I couldn't have had any success if I didn't have all those people working with me. We're working together to make this all work. That's where the success comes from. It's not just my success, it's our success.”
Michigan, predicted before the season to finish in the middle of the Big Ten, ended the regular season with a 19-3 record and a 14-3 mark in conference play. The Wolverines won 18 of their first 19 games, including five straight after navigating a two-week shutdown and 23-day layoff, and have held a top-10 ranking for 10 straight weeks.
"Very excited for him. Very happy for him and I think it's well deserved," athletic director Warde Manuel said Tuesday on a Zoom call. "No matter how much I believe in somebody, you never know the outcome in how it exactly is going to play out. But if I could draw up an outcome for Juwan, it is this.
"I have been so pleased with what he has done, how he has gone about it, how he has connected with his staff, with the student-athletes. The things that you don't see that I hear about and see in terms of the student-athletes and how they're engaging, how they are enjoying being a part of this team. The little things are important for us to continue success. Juwan has been exceptional. For me, I couldn't draw it up any better for him, for us."
Meanwhile, the accolades continued to pile up for center Hunter Dickinson. He was named Big Ten freshman of the year and All-Big Ten first team by the media after leading all conference rookies with 14.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, ranking second in the league with a 59.6% field-goal percentage and racking up seven Big Ten freshman of the week honors.
Dickinson is the first Michigan freshman to earn a spot on the first team since Mike McGee (1978). He’s also the eighth Wolverine to earn rookie of the year recognition, joining an impressive list that includes Gary Grant (1985), Chris Webber (1992), Maurice Taylor (1995), LaVell Blanchard (2000), Daniel Horton (2003), Trey Burke (2012) and Ignas Brazdeikis (2019).
In addition, Dickinson was named All-Big Ten second team by the coaches and newcomer of the year by the AP. He also earned his first All-American honor with a second-team nod by Sporting News, becoming Michigan’s first big man to receive such recognition since Howard in 1994.
Other Wolverines to be honored included senior forward Isaiah Livers and sophomore wing Franz Wagner. Livers was a consensus All-Big Ten second-team selection and averages 13.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and two assists per game, all career-best marks. Wagner was named All-Big Ten second team by the coaches and third team by the media after averaging 12.9 points and 6.3 rebounds. Both were second-team selections by the AP.
Despite having the best defense in the Big Ten, the Wolverines weren’t represented on the five-man All-Defensive team.
More awards could be in store for Howard, who is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy men’s coach of the year. Dickinson is also on the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award and a semifinalist for the Naismith Award, which both recognize college basketball’s top player.
Manuel said Michigan won't be holding any fan events or rallies at the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. While he's glad fans will be able to attend, the focus is on minimizing exposure and preventing an outbreak.
"We're going to bubble the student-athletes and staff so that they're maintained," Manuel said. "We are not planning for any kind of engagement with our fans. It's really going to be all about making sure for all those who are there that they are healthy and safe."
… Michigan signees Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate earned Naismith High School All-American honors, with Houstan being named to the second team and Diabate receiving honorable mention.