Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
Juwan Howard has been hitting the recruiting trail hard since he arrived in Ann Arbor.
Michigan basketball has been busy on the recruiting trail with Juwan Howard getting his feet wet as a first time head coach. He got to work almost immediately with prospects for the 2020 cycle and while the Wolverines have not had any commitments just yet, Howard has put his program into the mix for some of the best talent in the class.
The first thing that has stuck out about Michigan’s recruiting approach with Howard as opposed to John Beilein is that they have been extremely more relaxed in terms of waiting to offer a player until he takes a visit, which was a Beilein tactic that often times was criticized. Howard knows that if Michigan is going to be successful under him, they will need to recruit at a high level.
Michigan, to a certain extent, is seeing this relaxed policy pay dividends with several blue chip recruits at least considering the Wolverines without even having seen what they will be under their new head coach. Seeing as almost all of these kids have NBA aspirations and Howard is coming to the college game as a former NBA assistant, the pitch early on has been a pretty simple one.
As far as scholarship availability goes, the Wolverines currently have three spots open for next season assuming there is not any attrition, which is always possible with a coaching transition. There are always a few holdouts until the end of the recruiting process, but with the early signing period set for Nov. 13 through Nov. 20, we should see some of these names coming off the board fairly soon.
With that in mind, here’s a look at how the 2020 recruiting cycle is shaking out so far for Howard.
Four-star point guard Zeb Jackson (Maumee, Ohio)
Jackson committed to Michigan last October with Beilein still running the program and seems to be showing no signs of pulling out of that commitment, having visited as recently as a few weeks ago.
In Contention For
Five-star shooting guard Joshua Christopher (Lakewood, California)
Christopher is one of the most sought-after prospects in the class and was Howard’s very first offer after taking the Michigan job. He says that he will be taking an official visit to Michigan for the Feb. 8 game against Michigan state. The Wolverines made his top five that also includes the likes of Arizona State, Missouri, UCLA and Kentucky. This will be one of those recruitments that should stretch into the winter/spring.
Five-star power forward Isaiah Todd (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Todd is set to decide from a final five schools that consists of Michigan, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and Memphis. He will take an official visit to Ann Arbor on Sept. 27. Kentucky has over half of the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions for Todd’s destination.
Five-star center Walker Kessler (Atlanta, Georgia)
Michigan was able to get Kessler in for a second official visit after he visited last year when Beilein was still around. The NCAA allows that when there is a new coaching staff and Howard has done a nice job working the Wovlerines back into the mix. However, things are trending heavily towards Duke with 80 percent of the Crystal Ball picks predicting he will become a Blue Devil.
Five-star shooting guard Jaden Springer (Bradenton, Florida)
The Wolverines were able to get Springer in town for an official visit a few weeks ago and by all accounts it went well with Michigan being included in his final three schools, along with Memphis (where he will officially visit on Sept. 14) and Tennessee. The Vols have been on him the longest and have his latest scheduled official visit on Oct. 5 and all 10 Crystal Ball picks have him heading it Knoxville currently.
Five-star combo guard Nimari Burnett (Napa, California)
If Michigan is going to land a big fish in this recruiting cycle, Burnett feels like it might be their best shot given his relationship with Howard going back to his childhood in Chicago. He officially visited on Sept. 6 and also has Oregon, Texas Tech and Alabama in the running, the latter of which currently holds 100 percent of the Crystal Ball picks. He has not revealed a timetable for a decision, but the dots are easiest to connect here for why the Wolverines might make sense in the end.
Four-star center Mark Williams (Bradenton, Florida)
Michigan was recently named to the top five along with Duke, Ohio State, Stanford and UCLA. Williams is set to visit Ann Arbor on Oct. 26 on the weekend of the football game against Notre Dame. Duke has a big lead in the Crystal Ball race.
Four-star shooting guard Moses Moody (Little Rock, Arkansas)
Moody, who will be a teammate of commit Zeb Jackson at Montverde Academy in Florida this season, is set to visit Ann Arbor for an official on Sept. 27. He has or will take visits to Arkansas, Ohio State, Florida, Kansas, Oregon and USC with Arkansas and Oregon as the two school currently leading the charge in Crystal Balls.
Four-star center Hunter Dickinson (Hyattsville, Maryland)
Dickinson was offered by Howard in late June and officially visited on Sept. 7. Louisville, Notre Dame, Purdue, Florida State, North Carolina and Providence are also in the mix for his services. He only has two Crystal Ball predictions as of now, but both have him heading to Notre Dame.
Three-star forward Jace Howard (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Howard is the son of the head coach at Michigan and it seems fairly certain he will be a part of this recruiting class. He was an unranked prospect until the offer came in from his father, but has plenty of friends on the EYBL and AAU circuits and might just wind up being a recruiting ace in the hole for his dad and the Wolverines if/when he decides to commit.
Four-star power forward Lance Ware (Camden, New Jersey)
Ware is one of the rising stars in this cycle, but he is all but officially bound to Kentucky with 100 percent of the predictions and a looming decision. He visited last weekend for the Army game.
Four-star power forward Henry Coleman (Richmond, Virginia)
Michigan remains in the mix, but Coleman has yet to schedule an official visit and Duke has all 11 Crystal Ball projections in its favor currently.
Three-star power forward Carlos Johnson (Benton Harbor, Michigan)
Johnson was offered by Beilein and still is seemingly on the board for the new coaching staff, but does not seem like a huge priority unless a lot of options come off the board for the Wolverines. We will have to wait and see here, though Butler might be where this one is heading.
Howard is casting an extremely wide net with nothing but promise and his NBA pedigree to sell currently and it is going to be tough to get some of these elite guys without knowing what direction the program is heading. My personal prediction is that the three available scholarships wind up being filled by one of the bigger names, one by Jace Howard and the other by someone that might not be on the board just yet. But we will have to wait and see what happens.
Regardless, Michigan is going to have to make an incredible impression on these visits and by all accounts they seem to be going very well. But with a short amount of time until the early signing period, it seems expected that the more established programs have a leg up right now.