The Wolverine

October 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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OCTOBER 2020 THE WOLVERINE 7 BY AUSTIN FOX O n the morning of Aug. 24, ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojn- arowski tweeted something unset- tling to Michigan fans. "ESPN Sources: A possible NBA coaching candidate whose name is gaining traction within front offices: Michigan coach Juwan Howard," Wojnarowski tweeted. "Howard has an obviously strong résumé as a player and later an assistant under Erik Spoelstra. He interviewed for Lakers, Cavs before taking the U-M job." Just over an hour later, Howard sent out a message of his own that dispelled the ESPN report and al- lowed Wolverine fans everywhere to breathe a sigh of relief. "There was a report of my name as a potential candidate for NBA coach- ing opportunities," the U-M head coach wrote. "While I am flattered, and know it will more than likely happen again, I am not exploring, seeking or listening. "I am the head coach at the Univer- sity of Michigan! I am blessed to be working at the greatest university in the world. I am blessed to be guiding a group of wonderful young men. "We have goals, dreams and cham- pionships to win. This is where my focus is. Go Blue!" The 2019-20 campaign was How- ard's first on the job in Ann Arbor, taking over for John Beilein after he left to become the head man of the Cleveland Cavaliers following a 12- year stint at Michigan. "I've always been asked by friends and by family, would I ever coach college basketball?" Howard noted when he accepted the U-M job in May 2019. "My answer has always been there's only one job. "There's only one school that I would look back and pursue at the collegiate level. That's the University of Michigan." Howard's debut club finished with a 19-12 record overall with a 10-10 mark in league play, and likely would have received an invitation to the NCAA Tournament had it oc- curred. The Wolverines began the 2019-20 season unranked before vaulting to No. 4 in the Associated Press Poll in November, following a Battle 4 At- lantis championship in the Bahamas, but finished the year outside the AP top 25. Howard revealed that landing the Michigan job was the second-biggest accomplishment of his life, behind only getting his degree from the school. He also admitted all he could think about was "Michigan, Michi- gan, Michigan" while interviewing with the Minnesota Timberwolves prior to his hiring at U-M. "When I get into something, I'm all in," Howard said at his introductory press conference in Ann Arbor. "I try to learn, grow with it, and give it my best and my all. "I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that are doubting the fact that I'm a first-time head coach. Well, you've got to start somewhere, don't you?" Another aspect that will likely keep the 47-year-old at U-M for the foreseeable future is the allure of coaching his son(s). Jace Howard will be a freshman guard on the team this upcoming season, while Jett Howard — a 2022 four-star shooting guard rated as the No. 60 overall player na- tionally by — is heavily expected to someday join his father at Michigan as well. ❑ Inside Michigan ATHLETICS Juwan Howard Shoots Down NBA Rumors ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Aug. 24 that Howard was an emerging candidate for NBA jobs, but Howard quickly dispelled that notion hours later with his own statement that said: "I am not exploring, seeking or listening. … [Michigan] is where my focus is." PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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