Michigan Basketball: Juwan Howard invites seniors to return in 2021-22

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Shortly after being named the AP’s college coach of the year, Juwan Howard mentioned that any of the Michigan Basketball senior classmen that would like to return to the program next season are welcome to do so.

Howard received 35 of 63 votes to earn the award, 19 votes ahead of Mark Few of Gonzaga, who finished in second place.  Howard is the first Michigan Basketball coach to earn the honor since 1985, when Bill Frieder won the award.  Howard is also the first Big Ten coach to receive the award since 2005.

Congratulations coach.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, last season was deemed a ‘free year,’ and players are permitted to return for an additional season if they so choose.

With Michigan Basketball being upset by a pesky UCLA team in the Elite Eight, Howard’s invitation is a calculated comment.  It was a team that came oh so close to advancing to the Final Four in Howard’s first year in the NCAA tournament.

The Wolverines have no one to blame but themselves after missing its final eight shot attempts in the Elite Eight.  Michigan also had three prime chances to win the contest late but missed each, eventually falling 51-49 to the Bruins.

Juwan Howard will welcome any or all of Michigan Basketball’s seniors back in 2021-22.

Howard’s comment, courtesy of the Detroit Free Press, is subtle but brilliant.

"“Our senior class was amazing,” Howard said Thursday afternoon. “We’re truly going to miss them. I hope they remember that it was a free year, so if they choose they want to come back, the invitation is open.”Howard laughed, then said, “It was fun to coach them, man.”"

IF the five seniors all decided to return, Michigan won’t just be favorites to win the Big Ten but also often picked to make another deep tournament run.  Let’s not mix words; it’s challenging to advance to a Final Four.

To say, ‘oh, they will be back’ is anything BUT a guarantee.  You saw all of the upsets this season and in the past, but if Isaiah Livers, Eli Brooks, Austin Davis, Mike Smith, and Chaundee Brown all return to the program, the Wolverines will be in phenomenal shape in 2021-22.

Those are five valuable players, some underrated, especially Davis, but he proved his worth in that UCLA game when Hunter Dickinson went cold; Davis entered the ball game and provided the team with a steady presence inside

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The Wolverines also currently have the nation’s top recruiting class in 2021, led by Kobe Bufkin and Caleb Houstan.