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Michigan basketball coach Juwan Howard was once again the subject of baseless NBA rumors recently, being linked to job openings in Boston and Portland.

Some Michigan fans panicked. A handful of writers ran with tweets to write their stories in search of more traffic (write or wrong, speculation sells), and others chuckled and shook their heads.

Put us in the latter category, well aware before NBA writer Adrien Wojnarowski confirmed in a tweet what we already knew … Howard wasn’t even interested in listening.

Michigan Wolverines basketball coach Juwan Howard is happy in Ann Arbor.
Michigan Wolverines basketball coach Juwan Howard is happy in Ann Arbor. (Brandon Brown)

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We’ve been asked repeatedly on radio shows, etc. whether that could change if the right team came calling. We can think of only one — Miami, where he still has a home and with whom he cut his teeth as an assistant coach.

Howard referred to the franchise as a “championship-caliber culture” at his introductory press conference, learning from coach Erik Spoelstra, team president Pat Riley and others, and it’s fair to believe those ties could at least make him consider a move.

That assumes an opening, of course, something that doesn’t appear likely in the immediate future. But the Heat gave Howard his start, and that could be a draw.

“Sitting in that room, helping to game plan, being like a sponge, learning, developing that growth mindset, preparing myself for a day like this …” Howard said when he arrived. “Now, I get the keys.”

And it’s gone better than anyone could have hoped. He’s learned quickly in all aspects, and while he initially spoke of failure not being an option and wanting the best for the program, the confidence now is clear. Every day he gets more comfortable, to the point that he’s got one of the hottest programs in the country.

He signed the nation’s top recruiting class last year after an impressive first group, this after expressing some concern upon arrival about how he’d do in that area.

“Recruiting is going to be a challenge,” he said. “I have to first understand all of the rules. I want to continue to make sure this culture does not take a step back. I will learn and get into the rulebook of the NCAA, as far as what you are allowed to do and what you’re not allowed to do. That’s going to be one of the biggest challenges.”

He’s got it down now, and he’s also got the work ethic on the trail of his predecessor John Beilein, who spent 30 consecutive days on the road after a National Championship game appearance in search of talent when some of his players decided to bolt.

A name and reputation can get you in the door, but it’s tireless hours of work that land top talent if you’re doing it the right way, and make no mistake … Howard is. He’ll no doubt land a top class in 2022 as well, starting with son, Jett Howard, one of the fastest risers in the 2022 class.

Howard’s youngest son wants to be recruited, but he’ll play in Ann Arbor with his brother, Jace, and probably some of their friends as well. Floridians Gregg Glenn, Jaden Bradley and Eric Dailey Jr. are just a few of the Howards’ friends considering Michigan, and the branches continue to grow.

And that, more than anything, is what’s going to keep Howard in Ann Arbor for a while. He’s spoken with heartfelt emotion about how great it feels to spend time with his son, Jace, after being away so often as an NBA player and coach. To be able to have both of them at the same time, all be together as a “normal” family for several years is invaluable and important to him, and he’s got that in front of him.

There’s also nothing phony when Howard is addressing the softball players at head coach Carol Hutchins’ request, assistant Phil Martelli said, or popping it at a baseball game or field hockey event. He’s enjoying every second of it, loving being part of the experience.

Combine that with his family time, his sincere love for Michigan and everything about it, and you’ve got a guy who is as ingrained as can be.

Take solace in that the next time the inevitable “Howard is being mentioned for …” rumor pops up.

He’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

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