Michigan officially announced Juwan Howard as their 17th men’s basketball coach, as he agreed to terms with the university Wednesday on a five-year deal. And his former teammate Jimmy King is excited to say the least.
Following in the footsteps of his fellow “Fab Five” brothers Jalen Rose, and Chris Webber, who already voiced their support for Howard to get the job, King offered a resounding endorsement once the hire was made official.
“I think it’s a great hire for a number of reasons”, King told Maize n Brew after the hire. “One being he knows the culture here. He knows what the expectations are.”
Howard comes to Michigan after serving six seasons as an assistant coach for the Miami Heat. As an assistant for the last five years (2014-19) under Erik Spoelstra, Howard helped the Heat win three division titles (2014, ‘16, and ‘18) and one Eastern Conference championship (2014). Additionally, Howard served as the head coach of Miami’s 2016 NBA Summer League teams in both Orlando and Las Vegas and also for Team Africa in the NBA Africa Game 2018.
While he does not have any collegiate head coaching experience and comes with questions regarding how he will recruit, King sees no issue in the department; acknowledging the success of Penny Hardaway and Howard’s involvement of recruiting the “Fab Five”.
“Juwan’s going to fare well simply because of the relationships that he has, his extensive circle, and [his reach], King said. “I don’t think it will take long. I mean, a perfect example is Penny Hardaway and what he’s done in a years’ time at the University of Memphis, his alma mater. I think that small litmus test has been proven and I think Juwan can emulate that and do the same thing here.”
“Juwan was the first to sign when we were being recruited outta high school. He was the first to sign and, in a sense, recruited the rest of the ‘Fab Five’. If he can get the job done as a recruiter as he himself was being recruited, he now has years of experience under his belt [and] he’ll be able to recruit some top-level talent like he did as a kid coming to Michigan.”
Howard, whose NBA playing career spawned 19 seasons, also brings the cache of being a two-time NBA champion; something that King believes will give him the edge on the recruiting trail.
“If I were a highly recruited All-American out of high school, I would want to talk to or reach out to someone who has that type of experience”, King said. “And Juwan was ‘the guy’. He was a top 3 All-American in high school, so he has that experience to relate to the players and how to transfer those skills from high school to college to be successful, and how to cultivate those skills to be a pro and to be sustainable.”
Before his pro, Howard spent three years in Ann Arbor from 1991-94. In what is considered the greatest Michigan recruiting class of all time, Howard -- along with Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson -- were famously dubbed the “Fab Five”. Fans all over social media looked at Howard’s hiring as a potential reunion for the group who led Michigan to back to back Final Four appearances in 1992 and 1993. King echoes the same sentiments as those fans when asked if he feels a reunion is on the horizon following Howard’s hire.
“I absolutely do,” King said. “I think it’s a story of the stars aligning, the same way they aligned when we were young All-Americans coming out of high school to form the ‘Fab Five’…I can’t give you a timeline. It’s much sooner. I would say before the summer’s over.”