Juwan Howard is returning to Michigan.
Howard was announced Wednesday as the next head coach at his alma mater, succeeding John Beilein, who left the Wolverines for the Cleveland Cavaliers on May 14. Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel chose Howard over Providence coach Ed Cooley and Luke Yaklich, an assistant on Beilein’s staff for two seasons.
Howard and Michigan agreed to a five-year contract that will start at $2 million annually.
"We have found someone with high integrity, great character and a coach who has unbelievable knowledge of the game of basketball," Manuel said. “Juwan has proven himself to be a tremendous leader, a wonderful communicator and a developer of talent. We couldn't have asked for a better role model for the young men in our program. We are excited to welcome back a member of the family to Ann Arbor."
Howard, who played at Michigan from 1991-94, was a member of the famous “Fab Five” recruiting class that took the college basketball world by storm before embarking on a 19-year NBA playing career that ended with back-to-back titles with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013.
Since then, Howard, 46, has served as an assistant coach for the Heat and has been in the mix for several NBA head-coaching positions. This will be his first college coaching job and first time as a head coach at any level.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to lead the University of Michigan's storied basketball program," Howard said. "As a 'Michigan Man' I know the place our program has in college basketball and I embrace the chance to build onto that history and lead us to championships both in the Big Ten and national level. We will continue to develop young men on the court, in the classroom and in the community that our fan base will continue to be proud of.”
Member of ‘Fab Five’ returning to Ann Arbor
Howard was publicly endorsed for the job by several Michigan greats, including Fab Five teammate Jalen Rose, as well as personnel across the NBA.
“There’s a guy named Juwan Howard that’s from Chicago,” Rose said on ESPN. “He’s going to be able to help recruit that market. He was an All-American in high school, came to the University of Michigan and was a member of the Fab Five. He was the first person to sign their Letter of Intent. In theory, he also helped recruit each one of us. He was always the adult in the room amongst us.”
The “Fab Five” era hasn’t always been embraced by the university, however. The group twice reached the national championship game, but those two appearances and many of the wins from those seasons were vacated after it was revealed that several players, most notably Chris Webber, accepted money from booster Ed Martin. As part of NCAA sanctions, UM was forced to disassociate from Webber for 10 years. The separation ended in 2013 and Webber has had a strained relationship with the school, though he returned for a football game last year as an honorary captain invited by coach Jim Harbaugh.
Howard, who was not among the players implicated, will be handed the reins of a program that won two Big Ten regular season titles, two Big Ten tournament titles and made several deep runs in the NCAA tournament during Beilein’s 12-season tenure. The Wolverines made nine NCAA tournaments under Beilein, twice finishing as the NCAA runner-up (2013, 2018).
Michigan losing its top three scorers
The 2018-19 Wolverines bowed out in the Sweet 16 to eventual runner-up Texas Tech and won’t return their top three scorers next season. Jordan Poole, Charles Matthews and Big Ten freshman of the year Ignas Brazdeikis have already said they will stay in the NBA draft.
On a positive note, Howard will inherit two starters in point guard Zavier Simpson (8.8 points, 6.6 assists) and center Jon Teske (9.5 points, 7.0 rebounds), plus top reserve Isaiah Livers, a forward who averaged 7.9 points per game while shooting 42.6 percent from 3-point land.
Beyond that, Howard will have a mostly inexperienced roster to work with.
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