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Player Profile: Jace Howard could see more playing time this year

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The son of the head coach plays a key role on the team, especially off the court.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Florida State at Michigan Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot of talent on the 2021-22 Michigan Wolverines’ men’s basketball roster, and with all that talent, it’s easy to forget guys like Jace Howard are on the team.

Averaging a little more than three minutes a game last year, Howard didn’t see the floor a lot and mostly only came in at the end of blowouts. After putting in some work this offseason, he could see his role expand a bit this season. Here’s how he could earn more time on the floor for the Wolverines.

The story so far

Howard was a three-star recruit in high school, ranking in the top 75 among small forwards in the 2020 recruiting class. He will be one of the many Wolverines to benefit from NIL laws being passed this summer, as he was named Michigan Basketball’s first Barstool Athlete.

As my colleague Andrew Bailey covered last week, Howard made some strides this offseason and did add 15 pounds of muscle to his lean frame. Howard looked a little overwhelmed in the few minutes he did play last year, but this extra strength should help him on both sides of the floor.

At 6-foot-7, Howard has the size to score inside while also having the ball handling skills and a decent outside. While most of his minutes came after the game was already decided, he did show one of his best offensive qualities is moving without the ball, getting himself to the right spot for a spot-up three or cutting to the basket for an easy score.

Howard has size and proved in high school he can be a high energy defender and a decent scorer. Combine that with the added muscle, and he could see a few more minutes this year than he did last year.

Outlook for 2021-22

As is the case with Howard, Will Tschetter and Isaiah Barnes, there may not be a lot of time for them thanks to Michigan’s loaded depth chart.

The thing Howard does have working for him is he primarily plays the 3, which is where the Wolverines have the least amount of depth at the moment. Caleb Houstan is expected to get a lot of playing time there, but if he struggles early on or gets into foul trouble, Howard could fight with Barnes and Terrance Williams to relieve him off the bench.

Just like last year, Howard may be a victim of being a good player on a really good team with a lot of talent ahead of him on the depth chart. If he can prove to be a capable defender and use that new muscle to his advantage on offense, he could see time in 3-4 minute bursts this season.

If he is content with being a good locker room guy who can give the Wolverines good looks in practice and be a phenomenal cheerleader off the bench, that might be Howard’s destiny. Any time he can come off the bench as a flexible defender and capable scorer would help Michigan in games where the starters are struggling.