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Juwan Howard Rounds Out Support Staff for Men’s Basketball

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The Wolverines retained Chris Hunter in addition to bringing back two familiar faces to Crisler Center.

Photo: Jay Sarkar

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - New Michigan coach Juwan Howard has been busy on the recruiting trail for Michigan, picking up incoming freshman Franz Wagner in addition to offering several players in the Class of 2020. Monday afternoon, the Wolverines announced via press release that Howard filled out the program’s support staff.

Chris Hunter will return. The Gary, Ind. native played for the Wolverines from 2002-2006 and has been with the program in support roles since 2014. Hunter was brought in as Director of Player Personnel in 2014 before being promoted to Director of Basketball Operations under John Beilein in 2017. Hunter will continue in that role for a third season under Howard.

Jay Smith was a Michigan assistant under Steve Fisher from 1989-1996 and was on the bench during Howard’s three-year tenure as a player. The Wolverines made the NCAA Tournament in six of the seven years Smith was an assistant, and he helped recruit the Fab Five to campus in 1991.

”There are many people who have helped me throughout my career; however, Jay Smith is someone special who I have a deep connection with and the utmost respect for,” said Howard. “He has such an incredible passion for the game and his ability to relate with young men is going to be something invaluable for us. We are very fortunate to have him return to Ann Arbor and join our staff.”

Smith has bounced around the state of Michigan since departing Ann Arbor 23 years ago. He initially left Michigan for his first head coaching job at Grand Valley State. During the 1996-97 season, Smith guided the Lakers to a 23-6 record, a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) regular-season and tournament championships and an NCAA Division II Tournament appearance.

Smith was immediately hired to lead the Central Michigan men’s basketball team, coaching the team from 1997-2006. Smith’s Chippewa teams won the MAC twice and made the second round of the NCAA Tournament after an upset of 6-seed Creighton in 2003 with All-American Chris Kaman leading the Chips.

More recently, Smith was an assistant at the University of Detroit Mercy (2008-16) and the head coach at Kalamazoo College the last three years (2016-19.)

” There are always interesting twists in this game,” said Smith. “That can be said for this situation. I have been through plenty over the last few years and loved the opportunity Kalamazoo trusted in me. However, the chance to help out Juwan and return to Michigan is something my family and I are excited about and thankful for.”

Howard looked to two familiar faces from Michigan Basketball’s past in David Metzendorf (Video Analyst) and Jaaron Simmons (Graduate Assistant).

Metzendorf is a graduate of Ann Arbor Pioneer (2009) and served as a summer intern for the Wolverines under Beilein from 2010-12. Upon graduating, Metzendorf’s path took him to Cornell from 2014-16 as an assistant coach and then to Holy Cross University. Metzendorf was the Director of Basketball Operations for two seasons before becoming an assistant coach for 2018-19.

Jaaron Simmons played one season at Michigan, featuring on a team that won the Big Ten Tournament title and made it to the 2018 national title game. After graduating, Simmons played professional basketball in Sweden last year. He plans to finish work on his master’s degree in social work, which he began as a graduate transfer during the 2017-18 season.