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Juwan Howard discusses 2023 signees, Emoni Bates ahead of EMU

Howard spoke at length about Papa Kante and George Washington III, as well as Emoni Bates.

NCAA Basketball: IUPU - Ft. Wayne at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Juwan Howard took some time Thursday morning to briefly speak to the media ahead of Friday’s game, where the No. 22 Michigan Wolverines will take the Eastern Michigan Eagles in Detroit at Little Caesars Arena.

Howard got a chance to speak about 2023 recruits Papa Kante and George Washington III, both of whom committed over the last few weeks and signed their letters of intent to Michigan on Wednesday.

“We are extremely excited to have Papa Kante and George Washington III join our Michigan family,” Howard said in Thursday’s presser. “Both men are not only very skilled basketball players, but they also are great students and high character individuals. They will be a great addition to our team. Had an opportunity to build a relationship with both young men, and getting to know who they are inside is just fitting to why we were so high on these guys when we asked them to join our Michigan family.”

Washington is the 75th-ranked recruit in his class on the 247Sports composite and was previously committed to Ohio State. In his junior season with Christian Academy of Louisville, he averaged 23.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 52.5% from the field, including 65 made three-pointers.

“George comes from a basketball family,” Howard said in a press release. “He is a coach’s son. With all of that, he has grown up around the game. He has that certain mindset for it. We like that. He is crafty and is a gifted shooter and scorer. He has a well-rounded game and we can’t wait to see him suit up.”

Kante is ranked 107th on the composite. He’s a 6-foot-10 forward who has a 7-foot-4-inch wingspan, who averaged 15.2 points per game last high school season and earned All-New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class AAA honorable mention honors.

He was born and raised in Senegal, making him the fourth international player Howard has received a commitment from in his time as head coach, joining Franz Wagner, Moussa Diabate and Youssef Khayat.

“We are looking forward to bringing Papa into the fold,” Howard said. “He has size, broad shoulders and the ideal frame that could have an impact right away. He is a strong rebounder and loves to block shots. As he continues to add strength and works on all the little details, his offensive game will grow.”

Heading into Michigan’s matchup with EMU, Howard was asked how to game plan against a great scorer like Emoni Bates, a Memphis transfer who was the No. 1 recruit in the 2021 class. Howard did hint they would be throwing several guys at Bates to try and slow him down.

“With a great scorer, you just got to do your best to make him work hard for every bucket,” Howard said. “Knowing there are going to be a lot of sets for him, he’s going touch the ball every time down the floor because of his skillset and how he’s presented on the floor to make plays for his team. So you just got to make him work for it every chance he gets it.”

When constructing the roster last summer, Howard did mention they did “look at” Bates as someone to bring to Ann Arbor because of how talented he is.

“Give him credit, the young man worked incredibly hard on his skillset,” Howard said. “I’ve just enjoyed watching him over the years and how he’s gotten better each year.

“I think it’s great getting the opportunity to play at Little Caesars (Arena), and our young men getting a chance to see where the Detroit Pistons play and that huge arena, where Michigan fans that live in Detroit can come to the game and see us in person. I think that’s pretty cool, and I know our guys are going to enjoy that atmosphere once we step into that arena.”