UM's Juwan Howard one of four finalists for Naismith coach of the year

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Michigan’s Juwan Howard is in the running for another national coaching award.

On Wednesday, Howard was named a finalist for the Naismith men’s college coach of the year, along with Alabama's Nate Oats, Baylor's Scott Drew and Gonzaga’s Mark Few.

Michigan head coach Juwan Howard.

Howard, in his second season at his alma mater, led the Wolverines to a 19-3 regular-season record and to their first outright Big Ten regular-season championship since 2014. That helped the team earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993 and third time in program history.

“Juwan has done a great job in such a short period of putting them in national prominence,” CBS/Turner sports basketball analyst Kenny Smith said this week. “His style of play, his coaching strategy has been second to none. He's done a remarkable job for a guy who there was some questions.

“Can you be an NBA assistant coach and come to college basketball, recruit your student-athlete, get your student-athlete in class, practice and then put your philosophy in? Those are four things you don't have to do in the NBA. Those guys have to do that, having to learn to do that again and to make sure that that happens. … I think what he's done and the way he's grabbed that is understated on the job that he's done.”

Howard will face stiff competition for the top honor. Drew led the Baylor to the program’s first regular-season conference title since 1950. Few guided Gonzaga to its first unbeaten regular season and is the first team to enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated since Kentucky in 2014-15.  

And Oats, the ex-Romulus High coach, led the Tide to its first Southeastern Conference regular-season title in 19 years and first conference tournament championship in 30 years.

Fans can vote for the candidates by visiting naismithfanvote.com from Friday-March 31. The fan vote accounts for 5% of the total vote. The winner will be announced April 2.

Howard, Drew, Few and Oats were also named finalists for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Henry Iba Award, which is given annually to its national coach of the year.

Howard has been racking up the accolades since the regular season ended. He was the consensus Big Ten coach of the year, becoming the first Michigan coach to earn the honor since John Beilein in 2014. He was also named Sporting News’ national coach of the year, the District 7 coach of the year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the District V coach of the year by the USBWA.

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Twitter: @jamesbhawkins