clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

‘It’s been a good roller coaster’: Jace Howard talks off-season, playing with new guys on team

Howard said this is the best a team has looked in a summer since he’s been here.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s been a long offseason for the Michigan men’s basketball team. After losing its top three scorers from last season, this team has a lot of new faces and a lot of players that will likely take on bigger roles.

Jace Howard is one of those guys who may be playing more. A captain last season, Howard played sparingly, averaging 1.2 points and 0.9 rebounds per game while playing solid defense on opposing forwards.

Maize n Brew’s Jack Springgate got the chance to speak to Howard earlier this week outside the Brown Jug at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. The junior forward mentioned that he’s excited about the possibility of more playing time this season.

“I’d be lying if I said no, so yea, definitely,” Howard said. “I’ve been working on it all summer, been working since the season ended. Looking forward to what the coaches need from me. I feel like I’ll be playing a lot more in a bigger role and I’m excited for it.”

One of those top scorers leaving is Jett Howard, Jace’s younger brother, who was one of two Wolverines drafted among the top 15 picks of the 2023 NBA Draft. There’s been a lot of negative news surrounding Michigan and the transfer portal this offseason, but seeing his brother accomplish his dream was a great moment for Howard.

“It’s been a roller coaster, a lot of ups and downs,” Howard said. “We had some guys leave but we also had some guys come in. We saw Jett and Kobe get drafted...I was excited to see Jett get drafted by the Magic and Kobe to the Hawks. To answer your question, it’s been a good roller coaster.”

As one of the longest-tenured players returning to Michigan, Howard thinks his role as a leader will continue to grow. He seems thankful that he’s had practice being a leader the last few seasons.

“A lot more has been asked from me the last couple of years,” Howard said on leadership. “It’s something that obviously I’ve been willing to do. It’s going to be more this year. We have a more mature team, our team is eager to win. I’m looking forward to the new obstacles that are coming, and I’m looking forward to winning as well.”

The official roster for the 2023-24 season has been released, and the team has been practicing on campus over the last month or so. Howard has gotten the chance to bond with a lot of the new faces on the team.

“We’ve been playing a lot,” Howard said. “In terms of interaction, I’ve been talking to all of them, building relationships with everybody on the team that’s new. I could say this for a lot of guys, but George Washington (III) has really stood out to me, obviously Olivier (Nkamhoua), Nimari (Burnett) looked good out there, same with Tray (Jackson). It’s hard to base it on one guy, I feel like everyone has been coming in and making a great impact on the team.”

It’s no secret that Michigan has missed out on a lot of guys in the portal, including Caleb Love, who was at one point committed to coming to Ann Arbor. That unpredictability is difficult to deal with as a player.

“It’s not easy, to be honest with it,” Howard said. “It’s hard to predict anything. Anything that comes our way, we’re prepared for. Whether that’s playing with Caleb or not playing with Caleb, we got Olivier instead and that’s a great addition. You try not to focus on it too much and control the controllable. That is coming in and working hard and hopefully winning a lot of games this season, which is our plan.”

Howard is very optimistic about how this team has looked in the limited summer scrimmages they’ve had. This squad is looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament after missing the Big Dance last season, and it sounds like they are off to a great start.

“We’re getting to know each other really well, playing a lot of basketball,” Howard said. “I feel like our practices have been great, best I’ve seen in our Summer since I’ve been here in terms of the intensity we’re bringing, and the maturity we’ve had in practice.”