INDIANAPOLIS – When it comes to Michigan’s basketball game in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Tennessee, there’s an interesting subplot for coach Juwan Howard involving his son.
Not Jace Howard, the barely used small forward who has played 63 minutes for Wolverines. But Jett Howard, another little forward and another son who got involved in UM as part of his father’s 2022 recruitment class.
“I know he’s excited about this game,” Jace Howard told a news conference Friday afternoon. “I know he was very close to choosing them in front of us, so this is a rematch for me personally. And I think it will make days like tomorrow even more exciting.”
At 6 feet 7 and 220 pounds, Jett Howard is a four-star prospect ranked No. 37 overall in the country by 247Sports. He played his high school basketball at the IMG Academy in Florida and had scholarships from Michigan, Florida, Georgetown, Tennessee and LSU, among others.
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Jace Howard and his brother Jett Howard listen as their dad, Juwan Howard, the new men’s basketball coach in Michigan, answers questions on May 30, 2019 at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.
But his recruitment came down to the Wolverines and Volunteers, so Howard and Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes competed long before their teams were seeded close to each other in the southern region of this year’s tournament.
“I think a lot of people didn’t recruit Jett at that time, provided he was with his dad, which he ended up being,” Barnes said. “But it happened when we got involved that it was constantly evolving more. Got to know his family extremely well and Juwan was amazing with us. He did not make the visit when they came down, without getting to know his family, just a wonderful family. Absolutely wonderful family.
“But in the end we knew it would be very difficult. But we thought it was worth trying to make it happen. We really do not regret the effort we put into it.”
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With his father busy, Jett and his mother made the trip to Knoxville for an official visit in September. The recruit left the UT campus very excited about what he had seen and heard. He planned to bet on Tennessee until his father made one last pitch during the week that Jett eventually gave a verbal promise to Michigan.
That’s how close he came to choosing the Volunteers.
“I was worried,” Juwan Howard said when asked if he thought his son would reject UM. “I had to increase my recruitment. Not saying we did not give Jett the same recruitment experience that we would give other prospects, but now I can talk about Jett and I will not get an NCAA offense. But it’s still my family, it’s my son, it’s my blood. i threw it a little in my recruitment. (laughs.) i’m just kidding.
IMG Academy’s Jett Howard (13) films a layup during the first half of the 48th annual City of Palms Classic semifinal between IMG Academy and Oak Hill Academy, Tuesday, December 21, 2021, at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida . Oak Hill Academy led IMG Academy 35-34 at halftime.
“I still wanted my son to choose his school which he felt was best for his future in college, because I already had mine. It’s about him, and I wanted him to enjoy the recruitment experience because he deserved it. He deserved it. Tennessee, because it’s a great program, I left impressed with them too, but my wife was too damn happy about Tennessee, and Jett was excited about the program and what they had to offer for his development, and he was really impressed. by Coach (Barnes). “
So the Volunteers pushed forward and recruited Jett Howard in September and into October, the last part of the race. The decision was so difficult that it was unclear in which direction Jett Howard leaned in the days leading up to his decision on October 13.
But as Barnes noted last Friday when asked about the end result, blood is thicker than water. Tennessee took their chance, but Michigan felt right at home.
“He has a wonderful family,” Barnes said. “We never felt we were seduced at any point. We felt there was a sincere interest. But I understand in the end. My last conversation with Jett was sincere and I understand, you know? I understand. If I If I had a son, I would like him to play for me. “
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