The Wolverine

November 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NOVEMBER 2020 THE WOLVERINE 49 BY CHRIS BALAS T here's no one right way when it comes to basketball recruiting. Former Michigan head coach John Beilein, for example, never recruited from lists and sometimes viewed the pursuit of elite talent with baggage as a "wild goose chase." And more often than not, he was right. Others start at the top and work their way down. Many assumed Juwan Howard would come in as Beilein's successor and immediately start landing the top players in the country. His former teammate, Jalen Rose, put the pressure on him when he spoke of his desire to see his alma mater start landing the McDonald's All-Americans again, the implication being that Beilein had no interest. That wasn't fair. It's become appar- ent more than ever that, one, there's a method to being a player for the vast majority of elite national basket- ball recruits and, two, Beilein wasn't willing to get his hands that dirty. For fans of "doing it the right way," that's a good thing. Now in his second year of recruit- ing, Howard has begun to find his comfort zone in the same way. Af- ter initially employing the strategy of offering the best of the best first, he's found his sweet spot. Ironically, it's not that different from Beilein's, which proved to be a winning for- mula in his 12 years in Ann Arbor. Howard is getting his mitts mud- died in a different way, according to assistant coach Phil Martelli — the Saint Joseph's head coach for 24 years — by picking up the shovel and getting through the first layer himself. "He's been to the mountaintop in basketball, yet he's willing to get his hands dirty and get on the phone with 15- or 16-year-olds," Martelli noted. "With some of the high-profile kids that we put a lot of time in for, but didn't get … that gets personal. You want to go to prom with a cer- tain girl and she says no, and that hurts. "Juwan just maintained his dig- nity and moved forward. [Assistant] Saddi [Washington] deserves a lot of credit for that, too, because Saddi has this way of saying, 'We'll get Michi- gan guys.'" And they have, thanks in large part to Howard's efforts. They landed the No. 18 2020 class in the country with a trio of recruits ranked in the top 106 nationally: freshmen Hunter Dick- inson (No. 40), Zeb Jackson (No. 91) and Terrance Williams (No. 106), plus three-star Jace Howard, the head coach's son. This came after Howard secured four-star Franz Wagner the previ- ous year by flying to Germany to see him play, shortly after accepting the Michigan job — and he's off to a great start in the 2021 class. The Wolverines currently sit No. 8 nationally with a 2021 four-man class of Henderson (Nev.) Coronado four-star point guard Frankie Col- lins (6-1,'s No. 73 pros- pect nationally), four-star combo guard Kobe Bufkin of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian (6-5, No. 60), three- star power forward Will Tschetter of Stewartville (Minn.) High (6-8, No. 148) and four-star wing Isaiah Barnes (6-6, No. 112) of Chicago Simeon, with more likely to come. Howard would be the first to credit his assistant coaches for their ef-   BASKETBALL RECRUITING Juwan Howard Is Recruiting The Right Way Assistant coach Phil Martelli — a veteran of the profession for nearly 45 years, including 24 as the head coach at Saint Joseph's — sang the praises of Howard (above), noting he is involved in the recruiting process from the beginning. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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