Juwan Howard, a high school basketball standout who received one of the greatest recruiting pitches in college basketball history, has signed on to play football with the University of Michigan, ESPN reports.
Howard, an ex-champion basketball player at Utah, was given a five-year scholarship with the Wolverines. According to ESPN, Howard will join quarterback Shea Patterson on the Wolverines’ roster for their season opener with Ohio State on September 1st. Patterson, who was also recruited by the Wolverines, went to Ole Miss, where he lost his starting job to junior college transfer Matt Corral.
Howard has been outspoken in his support of Patterson since his recruitment began. As he himself relates, he nearly went to Michigan, only to opt for Michigan State. Instead, Howard signed with Utah, but he had to sit out the 2010-11 season and entered the NBA draft that year rather than play on the Utes’ team. He went undrafted and signed with Washington for two years and then spent three years playing for the Bobcats in the NBDL. During that time, he was a front-runner for the Dunkin’ Donuts dunk contest, which he won in 2006. Howard also began to thrive in basketball full-time and was traded from the Bobcats to the Cavaliers in 2008.
In 2016, Howard’s crossover shot proved irresistible to the rest of the basketball world, and he went on to become one of the best players in the NBDL, an MVP, a two-time scoring champion and one of the best at the development league. In 2017, he was named the D-League’s Most Valuable Player and First Team All-League.
Howard’s athletic ability has never been in question, but basketball coaches from Utah to Toledo had to look at his legal past. Howard was hit with multiple felony charges for crimes including burglary, false imprisonment and rape. Three of the charges were dropped. Howard avoided prison time because of his prior convictions and minor drug use and as a result became active as a youth basketball coach.
Although the long arm of the law didn’t prevent him from being recruited by Michigan, his role in clearing Patterson of any NCAA rules violations was a godsend for the Wolverines. Unlike Patterson, whom they offered before he took the Tar Heels’ offer, Howard played high school ball in San Antonio, which would be slightly more amenable to granting him a waiver for his alleged “recruiting relationship” with Patterson.
In high school, Howard reportedly caught the attention of none other than Michigan coach John Beilein, who subsequently recruited him. Beilein recalled the player’s beauty and ability to shoot and make fast passes, which are considered the cornerstones of the quarterback-running back combination. At Ohio State, Beilein has recruited one of the more breathtaking prospects in the league in running back Mike Weber.
Playing for the Wolverines gives Howard a chance to play alongside Michigan’s two star football recruits.