Updated: Jun 11
Juwan Howard is someone who has spent the majority of his life around the NBA, be it as a player for 19 seasons or as a Miami Heat assistant coach for six seasons. The big man was also a part of the famed Fab Five at the University of Michigan, which came full circle as he accepted the head coaching position in Ann Arbor in 2019. His youngest son, Jett Howard, has been exposed to what it takes to make it to that level and has been coached and groomed with experiences that give him an incredible perspective at such a young age.
Playing with two of the best players in high school basketball as a freshman in Vernon Carey, Jr. and Scottie Barnes at University School, Jett took on a much larger role as a sophomore, playing on the ball a majority of the time. Already an adept shooter, with an ability to play off ball as a dangerous catch-and-shoot threat, he was also able to attack closeouts, use his dangerous pull-up and make passing reads that lead to scoring opportunities for his teammates. Averaging 15.6 points and 3.7 assists, over half of Howard’s field goals were from behind the arc at a 38% clip, many of which were from beyond college range.
Howard now makes the move to IMG Academy, where he will be part of a team that is full of top players in the high school class of 2022. IMG will have top 2022 point guard Jaden Bradley, along with other highly-ranked 2022 players Jarace Walker, Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Eric Dailey, Jr. Howard’s shooting ability and ball skills should give him a role right away, while IMG’s training program will help him add even more layers to his game.
He’s someone many college coaches will inevitably be very excited about as a prospect, though winding up playing for his dad at Michigan may be tough to top. For the time being, he also has offers from Florida and Vanderbilt, along with plenty of other schools keeping track of him. In this interview, he pulls back the curtain and shares his family history, what it was like having a father around the NBA, schools he has kept a close eye on, his past season at University School, what he hopes to gain out of his transfer to IMG Academy, some of the players he has faced in high-level games of one-on-one, his favorite players, his experiences at multiple USA Basketball events, a glimpse into where he would like to end up in the NBA, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Jett Howard, from Miami, Florida:
Pro Insight: Talk about your background and your story.
Jett Howard: I was born in Chicago, Illinois. I lived there for about a year. Then I moved to Houston, Texas because my dad worked there and I lived there for about six years. After that, my dad got traded to the Miami Heat so that’s kind of where we got to settle down a bit. In Miami I got introduced to a guy called Remy Workouts [Stanley Remy] and from there, my game started to develop a little bit more. The stuff he teaches helps my body movement and I am familiar with that type of drill work, so I’ve developed a lot over the years. I think that’s when I really started taking basketball serious, is when I started working out with him.
PI: Can you share a bit more about your family background?
JH: My dad never really sat me down and said, “you’re going to play basketball.” He wanted me to try out all different sports. So I played soccer until I was like 13 years old. I played baseball until I was around 10 years old — but I basically chose to play basketball, myself. Me and my brother used to work out everyday and play one-on-one with each other. When I was in sixth grade my older brother was getting ready for the NBA draft and moved back to Miami for about a year to prepare himself. So when he came down he would teach and educate me on the game and it helped me out a lot. We used to play a lot of games like “21” and stuff and it basically got me ready for all of the circuit basketball and just realizing you can get roughed up a bit and just keep moving — so they’ve helped me out a lot. My dad has basically been with me throughout all of this and he gives me good advice...like to stay focused every day. I didn’t have a lot of time with him [my father] to sit down and plan out what days we were going to work out because he’s on the road and is really busy, so we never really had consistency with working out. That’s why when I started working out with Remy my game developed a lot more because it was on a consistent basis. I think that’s when I started to take off, but my dad [Juwan] has been there every step of the way for sure.
PI: Did you play any other sports aside from soccer and baseball?
JH: I played football all the way to eighth grade, I was a wide receiver and a quarterback. I was actually pretty good at football. My dad, he sat me down and was like, “man, are you going to play college football or college basketball?” I was like, “I guess I’ll play college basketball.” He basically made me choose, because he didn’t want me to be a dual-sport athlete so he wanted me to focus on one because it’d be easier for me...so I chose basketball because I’d been doing it for so long.
PI: Is football your first love?
JH: My first love is basketball, but I feel like football is more fun because there’s a lot of action. I like hitting people and not getting in trouble for it, so I like the action of it, but basketball is my first love for sure.
PI: How has football helped your basketball game?
JH: Probably just physically and having a dog mentality. So basically not backing down to anybody whether they’re bigger or smaller than you and just being consistent on how you approach the game. Never take plays or games off, so I think football helped shape that a little bit.
PI: For those who aren’t super familiar with your game, what are some of your greatest strengths?
JH: I would say shooting, for sure. My ball-handling is a little sneaky. Defense, for sure — and my vision.
PI: What about some things you still need to work on?
JH: Right now I’m focusing on ball-handling and defense a lot. I’m working on moving my feet, but basically every aspect of the game. I can’t really focus on one. I have to polish everything right now...definitely in quarantine, too.
PI: What would you say is most underrated about your game?
JH: My driving ability. I feel like it gets lost because I shoot a lot of jumpers. So I don’t think anybody really got to see how good my driving ability is, so I hope to showcase that this year at IMG.
PI: What are your current measurements?
JH: 6’6.5” and 200 pounds with just my underwear on and hopefully with a jersey on I’ll weigh like 210 [laughs]. About a 6’8-9” wingspan.
PI: How have you been working out?
JH: Not so much with weights, just my body weight a lot with a trainer down here named Felix Flores. I’ve just been working on my body weight with chin-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, stuff like that. My dad doesn’t really want me to start working on that until I get to IMG so I’m just going to listen to him.
PI: With things shut down due to COVID-19, what are you doing to stay ready?
JH: I’m working out with my strength & conditioning coach three or four times per week and I work out with Stan Remy about five or six days per week. I try to get some extra running in myself by doing sprints and stuff to keep my endurance up, but besides that I’m just on video games all day.
PI: What video games do you play?
JH: I like to play NBA 2K, Madden, NHL, PGA Tour...man, I play everything. I play Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, all that stuff.
PI: Which aspects of your game do you spend the majority of your time working on?
JH: I would say my left hand right now, everything going left. A lot of dribble pull-ups, getting away from your man and coming off screens a lot, so in that category. After we work out, we’ll usually do some defensive drills and try to make my feet quicker. I do a lot of that stuff with my strength coach as well, like for quickness and agility.
PI: Do you train with any other players?
JH: There’s actually been a few pros I’ve played against. So far it’s been Jimmy Butler…I played him one-on-one and it didn’t go well for me, so hopefully next time I’ll get him. I played Andre Drummond, Jonathan Kuminga — he’s not a pro, but he’s about to be a pro, and I played Jeff Green. I’ve played him the most. He’s really good.
PI: Are you holding your own against those guys?
JH: Definitely I’m holding my own, but not against Jimmy. You can ask Jeff Green and he’ll tell you that I gave him a lot of buckets during the quarantine. I beat him a few times, but he won’t tell you that — he’s a cool guy though — a real professional and I appreciate him a lot for teaching me.
PI: How has playing and working out with those guys boosted your confidence?
JH: It’s definitely boosted my confidence, for sure...sometimes I’m like “if it’s this easy, shouldn’t I already be in the league right now?” Those are some thoughts that come to my head sometimes, but I have to calm myself and humble myself a little bit. Jimmy, once you get a bucket on him, you’ll realize certain things aren’t gonna fly, so you have to minimize and simplify your game. I try to put myself in a game situation and be like, “okay, you’re not going to get five or six dribbles in a game, so don’t even think you’re doing something like that. You only get two or three dribbles in a game so don’t even try to compare yourself to NBA players right now, just stay humble.”
PI: Did Jimmy Butler tone it down for you a bit?
JH: He was going full strength for sure. Until we got to the last spot he started to tone it down for me a little bit because of fatigue, but besides that he was going full strength. He was putting me in the hole and doing all of that.
PI: Aside from NBA players, who are some of the toughest players you’ve had to guard?
JH: For one I would have to say Gregg Glenn, my good friend. He plays on my AAU team and he’s really hard to guard because his body is so developed that when he puts his shoulder into you it gives him the advantage to finish, so I’d have to go with him. Skyy Clark, for sure. He’s very shifty and you never know what he’s really going to do, either shoot or drive, so you just have to play up on him and maybe even keep an arm’s length of distance between, he’s a tough cover. A kid out of Georgia named Scoota Henderson — he’s very tough, he’s quick. Before he really started to get notoriety for what he’s doing we played him in a pre-season game last year for my AAU team and we were kind of taking these guys lightly. The team was Game Elite and we were kind of going through the motions and stuff, then we had to step it up because he was going off, so definitely him for sure. The last one I would have to say is MJ Rice — he’s another one who is strong like Gregg [Glenn] and is tough to guard. With MJ though, he’s not as versatile as Gregg, so I would say Gregg is harder to guard. But MJ is really good, though.
PI: Why do you wear number 13? Is there a story behind that?
JH: It’s simple, my favorite player is James Harden. I played wide receiver and I really like Odell Beckham, Jr. They both wear #13 and I’ll try and carry on the tradition for them, hopefully.
PI: What makes James Harden your favorite player?
JH: It’s a lot, but I’d have to say how he’s so unorthodox — I like that about him — and how hard he is to stay in front of. I might get a lot of comments about this, but I personally think he’s the hardest iso player ever. It’s impossible because if he wants to draw a foul he can draw a foul; if he wants to step back and hit a three, he can; he has the mid-range, he has everything. It’s basically what he wants to do. To me that’s what makes him the best one-on-one player ever and it’s probably what attracts me to him.
PI: Walk us through this past high school season.
JH: It was pretty difficult to start because we lost a lot of guys like Vern [Carey] and Scottie [Barnes] so we had to adjust. We had to really find out who was going to be the main scorer and the second main scorer, it was a lot, which made it tough to start out. Me and my teammate Roger McFarlane we’re trying to figure out which shots to take — like what are good and bad shots — so it was tough. But I feel like it was a pretty good season because for me I feel like I got to be myself a little bit more instead of just running to the corner and taking threes all game. I really got to play point a little bit and have the ball in my hands and attack and get to the hole a like I wanted to sometimes. It gave me open space to do me a little bit. Having my brother was awesome, he’s a hard worker. He does the dirty work and it gets lost in the mix sometimes, but I like playing with him. There were ups and downs throughout the season, but it ended pretty bad — we went out on a buzzer beater, so it wasn’t the best, but we had a lot of memories...but we got better throughout the season and that’s what really counts.
PI: With the absence of guys like Scottie and Vern, do you feel like you got to branch out as a player?
JH: I got to venture out a little bit and see where my game is at against talent down here in Broward County, Florida. We didn’t really go national this year, we played one national game in Arkansas — we played against a team from California, I think — they were a top-five team in the country and we were actually keeping up in the game. We were up until the fourth quarter and then things started going downhill. When we saw that we could keep up with a nationally-ranked team that’s when our confidence went up and we started to gain momentum.
PI: What made you transfer to IMG and what are you looking forward to the most?
JH: The main reason I transferred is because of the workout program they have over there and to be part of a brotherhood. I know a few guys going over there and I’m friends with a few guys who are already there. So just to be part of a brotherhood and have a strict workout program and get me ready for the next level — that’s the main reason.
PI: How excited are you to join up with the already super-loaded IMG roster?
JH: I’m really excited. I’m excited to play with Jarace [Walker] — he reminds me a little bit of Scottie [Barnes] and I loved playing with Scottie. I love playing with Jarace...he has great playmaking ability and he’s not a selfish player off the court either, which helps him be unselfish on the court. Eric Dailey Jr., who is already there, he didn’t really get that many minutes last year, but that should change this year. He’s pretty good, he’s a dog — I like being around him, it gets me going too. Jaden Bradley, he does everything from the point position: he scores, plays defense, makes tough shots...if the game is on the line it’s like “here you go, you do you.” Those three are my guys and I really like being around them. That’s a big reason why I transferred. Moussa Diabate is another guy — he was on my Nightrydas team. He was on the older group and we scrimmaged a lot against the older team so we got to play against each other. He’s a cool guy, we hung out a lot and he’s really close with my brother. They met at some of the camps like the Top-100 camp, so we just got to chop it up and he’s a really cool guy.
PI: What are your short and long term goals as a basketball player?
JH: My short term goal right now is to win a National Championship and probably perfect going to my left…so a National Championship and my left hand. My long term goal is to win a collegiate National Championship and to make it to the NBA.
PI: Can you talk a bit about your experience with USA Basketball?
JH: I learned a lot, my game changed a bunch. With USAB I learned how to workout, I learned phrases from the game, like I didn’t know what a “DHO” was until I got there. I learned how to spread out wide when you run the wings, how to not be selfish and involve other teammates and make them better. All the good little things I’ve learned and I’m thankful they’ve given me the opportunity to be invited. It’s eye-opening, for sure. I saw Jalen Green and Cole Anthony my freshman year. So to have guys like that take me under their wing was really cool. I can’t even re-thank them enough, it was a great opportunity.
PI: Who did you room with? Who was your favorite teammate? Funniest teammate?
JH: I went there like three or four times so I had Jalen Hood-Schifino as one of my roommates, that was like the first time I ever went. He’s my guy and I love that guy. The next time I had Noah Batchelor and Mark Mitchell, they’re both from Kansas. That was a really funny room, they’re two good people. If I had to go back I would probably have to say that was my favorite room I’ve ever roomed in at the camp. Noah has to be the funniest person that I know for sure. The next time I roomed with Dariq Whitehead, I’ve actually roomed with him four times including other camps and stuff. So I roomed with Dariq, Justice [Williams], and MJ Rice. Then the last time I went in the summer, I don’t know what USA or Samson [Kayode] did, but they blessed me and put me in a room with all of my AAU teammates. It was Demari Henderson, Ja’Cari Henderson, and Gregg Glenn — so we were all in the room together and they [USAB] really blessed us. That room was crazy...we were having so much fun there, those are cool memories. The funniest guy outside of our class for sure is Scottie Barnes, he’s the funniest guy to be around...he always has a smile on and he’s energetic, so definitely him.
PI: What’s the update with your recruitment?
JH: I’ve been contacted by a few schools the past two weeks. I’ve been contacted by Georgia Tech, Texas, Holy Cross, and I think it was two Florida coaches, so just those four.
PI: Would you say you have a dream school or a program you’ve always been a fan of?
JH: Yeah, I’ve always been a fan of Michigan because my dad went there and they have that Fab 5 legacy so I’ve always been a fan of them and they’ve always been a dream school of mine. For sure North Carolina and I love Florida because I was always a Bradley Beal fan, so I love Florida. Duke — I was a fan of Duke, but it wasn’t really like the school, it was more about who was on the team at the time. It was when Justise Winslow was there and they had that five that won the national championship. So they’ve been a dream school of mine, too.
PI: What are you looking for in a school of choice?
JH: Probably like somewhere where there is a lot of camaraderie with the players, not just the coaches, but the players. I would say that’s what my dad did when he was in college. I mean you don’t have to always like each other, but you have to respect each other when you’re on the court. So I’m trying to go somewhere where you can like bring in a class around me and be with other elite players that I’ve met at these camps and have friendships with, so that for sure. Somewhere where my game can develop and where I can be a pro. Besides that, probably a good campus, because I’m a campus guy.
PI: Would you consider the G-League?
JH: I don’t know, I’d have to discuss it with my mom — but yeah probably if they came to me and showed me what they were going to do. Like if they showed me and broke down what they are going to do with my future, show me how I would improve then I would be like “okay” and take it. There’s definitely a possibility if they offer me for sure.
PI: What type of system best fits your playing style?
JH: I don’t know what it’s called, but it has a lot of ball screen action in it. So when they set a lot of down screens and stuff like that and have motion. Basically a motion is probably where I’d be the best in for sure.
PI: Which would you say you rely on more, your natural talent and ability or your work ethic?
JH: The old me was probably my talent, but from now on I’m trying to work on my work ethic and rely on that more because talent only gets you so far and once you get to the big leagues everybody has talent — so something is going to have to separate you. That’s what USAB taught me.
PI: Do you model your game after anyone in particular?
JH: Not one particular player. I take certain things from people. I take like one James Harden move and I take a few Brad Beal moves. He’s a beast and is really slept on in the league. I don’t know how that happens, but I watch his film a lot and take a lot from his game. Just like how he has the same shot every time — it doesn’t matter what’s going on or who is in front of him. He always plays at his pace, just like James [Harden], so I love that. Devin Booker for sure, Kevin Durant, and I’d have to say Jimmy Butler.
PI: Do people compare your game to a player in particular?
JH: This year they started comparing me to Cam Reddish. I love Cam Reddish, I loved him at high school and at Duke. He didn’t really get to have like a big year this year, but I think it’s going to pan out for him.
PI: Which position do you view yourself as?
JH: Shooting guard, maybe a little point guard depending what the team needs. I think I could do 1-4 actually since I got a little taller, but my main position I would say is a shooting guard.
PI: Please explain what Jett Howard brings to a team, regardless of the situation.
JH: Good teammate, dog mentality, shooting ability, talking on defense, and I guess how they say a “good locker room guy,” but I’m still in high school. Just a guy that carries my teammates like if we’re in a bad time in the season or we just had a bad practice or something like that. I pick guys up if they made a mistake because like some guys don’t take it well if a coach is yelling at them and everyone is mad at them for a mistake they made in a game or practice, so I just try and pick guys up.