Jett Howard, nearly a Tennessee commit, ready to thrive at Michigan

When Jett Howard committed to Michigan in October, many may have greeted the news with an aura of inevitability. 

It’s not as if Howard, formerly a high four-star recruit, had a lack of potential suitors out of high school. More so, Howard has a rather blatant Michigan lineage — his dad, Juwan, being the head coach and his brother, Jace, entering his third season as a rotation player. 

But as Jett made clear on this week’s “Defend the Block” podcast, Michigan was hardly a shoo-in. For a time, he believed that he would be committing to Tennessee instead. 

“I was telling my Aunt on the side, ‘I think this is where I want to be, this is where I want to play,’” Howard recalled. “And then I came to Michigan on my visit, and I was sick. So I didn’t really get the chance to see Michigan because I was out of it, I had the flu. So when I left, I was like, ‘You know what? I think I want to go to Tennessee.’”

Howard praised Tennessee coach Rick Barnes for being “amazing” and “genuine” in contrast to other coaches whom he interacted with; Howard says there were a number of programs that offered him “false hope.” 

Though he was impressed with Barnes — who made a good impression on the rest of the Howard family, too — Jett changed his mind when he returned to Ann Arbor for a second visit. He remembered watching Moussa Diabate — a former teammate of Howard’s at IMG Academy — when Juwan sat down alongside him. 

“Me and my Dad just had a good heart-to-heart moment,” Howard remembered. “He’s really good at telling how I’m feeling in the moment. So he kind of understood, because I was giving him short responses about Michigan. 

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