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Juwan Howard hints at potential fifth-year return for Austin Davis next season

Howard might be saying something without actually saying it.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Davis continues to emerge as a breakout player for the Michigan Wolverines as the stretch run of his senior season in Ann Arbor continues, but it might not actually be his swan song year with the program.

Davis has a redshirt year under his belt, meaning that he has a fifth year of eligibility with the Wolverines if both parties are interested in it. For the longest time, we assumed that he and the program may just part ways as Juwan Howard brings in a near-historic amount of talent to Ann Arbor next season.

That said, the center has changed that with his strong play over the last month or so and after scoring another nine points off the bench in Sunday’s blowout win over Indiana, the question had to be asked on what the conversations on a potential future may look like with the two parties staying together.

“Why’d you have to ask this question?” Howard said in reply to a question from Brendan Quinn of The Athletic. “We had a really good conversation and a nice breakfast one day. He understands what I’m asking of his role this year, and also for the future. That breakfast had to be four-to-five weeks ago. So it didn’t just happen today or last week. We’ve had a really good conversation about his future. It’s great to have a great leader and guy who’s all in.”

Davis has come in in recent weeks as a bit of a force off the bench and has improved tremendously as someone who can generate some low-post offense. He has played and earned his way into the conversation for next year even with as many as six (or more) players coming in as freshmen next year.

Michigan is currently already over the projected scholarship limit, meaning attrition may come elsewhere if there is to be room for the incoming batch of players. That may come either by players transferring out, a de-commitment on the recruiting trail or someone like Isaiah Livers deciding to go pro after this year.

While Howard did not outright confirm either way what his conversation with Davis went like, things seem to be trending toward one more year in Ann Arbor. Nothing is set in stone yet, but Sunday’s postgame presser may have been a “wink-wink, nod-nod” into where Davis’ career could go next.