As Michigan coach Juwan Howard prepares for his second season in Ann Arbor, he will welcome plenty of new faces to his roster, including two transfers and four freshmen. Among them: His son.
Jace Howard grew up in Florida, where his father played for the hometown Miami Heat, winning two NBA championships before transitioning into a role as an assistant coach in 2014. Even before Juwan took the job at Michigan in 2019, Jace felt the impact of Michigan on his life, finding the walls of his house filled with Michigan memorabilia and photos from Juwan’s days as a member of the famed Fab Five squad.
“He’s heard it in the household for years and years,” Juwan said. “It just starts from birth and so Michigan has always been his love, it’s been his dream school.”
As Jace reached the high school level and began to look into continuing his career at the collegiate level as a three-star recruit, the Wolverines continued to be a team he monitored closely, considering himself a fan of the team and admiring the play of players such as senior forward Isaiah Livers and senior guard Eli Brooks.
Fast forward to 2020 and Jace finds himself preparing for his first collegiate campaign with his father patrolling the sidelines and Livers and Brooks as mentors.
“Seeing players like Isaiah and Eli now as my teammates, players I’m going against in practice, and guys that are willing to help and putting me under their wing, it’s been a great experience,” Jace said.
As Jace settles into his new home in Ann Arbor, he is in an unconventional position for a freshman as the coach’s son. Prior to attending Michigan, Jace reached out to other college players who play under their fathers, including Connor McCaffery of Iowa and Jaylen Hardaway of Memphis, to get advice on how to approach the situation.
“I just wanted to let them know that I’m a teammate before I’m his son once I step (on the floor),” Jace said. “I’m going to have (my teammates’) backs before, so to say, I’m his son.”
While Jace has seen his father at work both on the court and on the sidelines as an assistant at the NBA level, this has been the first time he has seen his father’s basketball mind at work up close and personal. Jace tried to convince Juwan to show him the playbook during quarantine, but was unable to convince his father to show it to him due to NCAA rules. Once he arrived at Michigan, though, Jace was blown away by what he saw from his father on the sidelines.
“To tell you the truth, he’s a pretty damn good coach,” Jace said. “He has some good insights and he’s a very detailed coach. It’s been very cool in that aspect to see his basketball mind and learn from that basketball mind.”
For Juwan, having a chance to coach his son is an opportunity he has made sure to cherish.
“I wasn’t as active as I wanted to be and I thought I was being,” Juwan said. “Now I get a chance at a very important stage of his life to be available, be present as he charters in this world. I get excited just thinking and watching while he’s in practice and getting the chance to interact and teach him.”
Jace’s hard work and determination in practice has drawn the praise of several of his teammates, including senior forward Chaundee Brown, a Florida native who played with Jace on an AAU team when he was a high school senior and Jace was a freshman.
“(Jace) is a really, really hard worker,” Brown said. “I see him in the gym all the time. He competes really hard, and that’s what I love about Jace. I’m teaching him a lot during practice.”
While it remains to be seen how much playing time he will receive, one thing seems clear: The Wolverines see him not as Jace Howard, Juwan’s son, but rather Jace Howard, the player.
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