Jace Howard, a three-star prospect and son of Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard, made it official on Monday night when he announced he would be joining his father in Ann Arbor as a player.
To address the elephant(s) in the room, yes, this does mean that Michigan is now one over the scholarship limit for the 2020 class (which you can keep track of with our chart here) assuming that is the route they ultimately take with him. That one spot likely comes in the form of Austin Davis not returning for a fifth year, as the Wolverines have not had a fifth-year senior on the roster since Jordan Morgan was still around.
Cool, so we know how Howard probably fits. But Michigan is not done recruiting for 2020 yet, right? Five-star prospects are still on the board in Joshua Christopher and Greg Brown, so how do they make this all work again?
Any combination of the following things could happen:
- Isaiah Todd, who committed back in October but has not signed yet, but elect to instead go pro overseas, which has been rumored as a possibility.
- Isaiah Livers could potentially make the jump to the NBA after this season, which we’ve been told is at the very least a conversation that has been had as a possibility behind the scenes.
- Transfers could take place with one or multiple players currently on this year’s team.
It would not be a surprise if a few of those things happened.
The other thing to address is the idea that this is a “nepotism” recruitment from Michigan. By definition of the word, you can make the argument that is the case, but we knew from the jump that Howard had talented kids playing high school basketball and the second he was hired at Michigan they were likely to follow. If Howard were not recruiting as well as he is as quickly as he is, some of the vocal detractors of this move probably would not have as big a problem with it.
Michigan is likely to bring in an all-time class in 2020, but with as many as six or seven players joining, they cannot all be four and five-star recruits. Not in an era of college sports where talented guys want to play and play now and in an era of college basketball where the elite talent is gone after a year or two.
Jace Howard is not going to cost them Christopher and/or Brown. It’s not even remotely related, so let’s put an end to that right here.
What Michigan is getting in the younger Howard is a three-star recruit and the 250th-ranked player in the country in the class of 2020, per the 247Composite. His offer sheet included Dayton, Northern Illinois, St. Louis, San Diego State, and others. He chose Michigan over Brown and Princeton.
The Wolverines’ 2020 class is set to be full of guys who will be NBA bound after either their first or second seasons with the program, but he’s not one of those guys. Howard projects to be a program player that finishes out his career and potentially develop into a reliable presence off the bench.
There’s not a ton out there on Howard, especially when it comes to video, but reports say he has a nice mixture of athleticism and length and probably projects to playing either forward spot at the next level. He is a definite tweener, but someone who may be capable of giving you some good minutes off the bench in those games where you may just need to find a way to grind it out to get the job done. When you hear the term “coaches son, first guy in, last guy out, grinder, etc.” about a player, this is kind of that in more ways than one.
Remember that scholarship players have access to more amenities as college athletes than the walk-ons do, but some may not find that as a suitable arrangement given that he is the coach’s son.
“When he offered me, it was like, ‘Hey man, I want you here. Obviously, I would love to have you at Michigan. This summer, I envisioned, when I first took the job, an opportunity for you to play for me and for me to coach you,’” Howard told The Michigan Insider. “He explained to me, I’m not going to treat you any differently, I might be a little harder on you because I’m going to demand excellence from you. Ever since then, we’ve been talking about basketball and it’s our coach-player relationship has been getting stronger and stronger, day-by-day.”
Whatever happens, it seems as if the eldest Howard will find a way to make it work and any attrition that comes can be attributed to seeing the writing on the wall for next season. Remember that this entire roster sans Franz Wagner committed to John Beilein and an entirely different way of playing the game of basketball.
Those who choose to move on are not going to get shoved out the door, but you can probably imagine a guy or two that may look at what’s coming in next year and naturally feeling like it may be time for him to seek opportunities elsewhere.