Jett Howard has been one of the best first-year players in college basketball this season. The freshman standout for the Michigan Wolverines has started all 19 games this season and is second on the team in points per game (14.6) and third in assists (47).
However, a lower-body injury sustained on Sunday in the win over Minnesota may prevent him from suiting up Thursday against the No. 1 ranked Purdue Boilermakers.
Speaking with the media over Zoom on Wednesday morning, head coach Juwan Howard said his youngest son is still “going through the rehab treatment,” and that, “In Jett’s mind, he’s saying he’s going to play.”
However, what Jett thinks and hopes for doesn’t necessarily mean he will play on Thursday.
“But it’s all about the health, and health is more important than any game,” Howard said. “We want to have a healthy Jett out there instead of a guy who’s hobbling. He just wants to be there to help his team because that’s how he’s wired mentally. He’s also a competitor and he wants to win and he feels that when he’s not playing, he’s not helping the team.”
Additionally, Howard said the key for Jett to have a shot at playing against the Boilermakers is to keep going through his treatment and take it one step at a time. A big step in getting back on the court would be practicing, but he did not do that yesterday. Whether he’s able to practice today is another story, but it seems unlikely he will play in any game until he gets a good practice in.
“When I see that he’s ready to go health-wise — and that’s when he’s going to be ready to play. I’m not saying that’s going to be next game; I don’t know when it’s going to be,” Howard said.
If Jett is unable to suit up, look for Joey Baker to start in his place. The senior transfer from Duke filled in when Jett went down with his injury against the Golden Gophers and although he didn’t have a great game by any stretch of the imagination — two points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field — he has stepped up at times this season and can be relied upon to hit big time three-point shots.