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.