As part of 2022 Basketball Media Days for the Big Ten, Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard spoke to the media for 10 minutes on Wednesday morning.
Howard’s last question was about transfer point guard Jaelin Llewellyn and his development, and he’s loved how Llewellyn has been able to lead this young team in multiple ways.
“Jaelin has been great for us so far,” Howard said. “I love the fact of how he’s been a leader, the way how he leads. Sometimes it can be vocally, it can be soft spoken by how his actions transition into our system. The way he is able to read into situations, when you feel that guys aren’t bringing it with the energy in practice, he’s been able to speak and not have those uncomfortable moments. That’s a sign of leadership that we always enjoy having. I’m sure every coach that you talk to (would say) when you have a player-led team, it makes our life a lot easier as a coach.”
This will be the third season in a row a transfer will be starting at point guard for the Wolverines, with Llewellyn following in the footsteps of Mike Smith and DeVante’ Jones. When asked about those point guards, Howard spoke highly of them all after mentioning a former Wolverine who, by his words, helped make his life a lot easier
“When you first start off as a head coach and you have a guy by the name of Zavier Simpson — Zavier Simpson is a coaches dream,” Howard said. “A young man who’s extremely smart, a great leader. He helped my transition as a first-year coach to be so smooth.”
It seems like there’s a trend with the program, but it was all about timing with what we needed at the time, what needed at that position and the scholarships we had available. Howard said, specifically on using the transfer portal to get experienced point guards.
To open his availability, Howard was asked about the significance of Black head coaches in the Big Ten. Howard will face another Black head coach in four games this season, with two games against Minnesota (Ben Johnson), and one game against Indiana (Mike Woodson) and Penn State (Micah Shrewsberry).
“It’s nice to see that there’s growth in our league,” Howard said. “To see how the league has grown so much when it comes to diversity — our league is getting stronger and stronger. The league is growing in so many ways, and it’s great to see that I’m part of the greatest conference in college basketball.”
When looking at duos of head coaches for college basketball programs, it’s harder to find a more successful pairing than Howard and Kim Barnes Arico. Howard spoke highly of Barnes Arico and how his staff and her staff prepare their players both on and off the court.
“Getting the opportunity to watch coach Kim and their staff and how they grow their program, all the trust that those young women have in their staff, and seeing how the success has taken off since the time I arrived at the University of Michigan, I’m not surprised,” Howard said. “I’ve gotten the chance to watch her practices, learn from her — having a growth mindset and seeing how I can grow with my staff and prepare my players, it’s nice to see that the Go Blue nation, that Maize and Blue is having success on the court, on the field, and also in the classroom.”