Juwan Howard lands back-to-back five star recruits; earns #1 class

Pierson VanGorp

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As the fall approached, the excitement around the Michigan campus was directed towards Michigan football. Now that Harbaugh and his wolverines are 1-3, the focus has turned to basketball. Juwan Howard struck out last year in recruiting, losing out on Isaiah Todd and Josh Christopher. So heading into this year in recruiting, critics put a lot of pressure on Juwan and his ability to recruit. Juwan shut his haters up quickly, landing 5 star PF Caleb Houstan and 5 star C Moussa Diabte. They join 4 star PG Frankie Collins, 4 star SG Kobe Bufkin, 4 star SF Isaiah Barnes, and 3 star PF Will Tschetter. The Wolverines have the number 1 class in the country according to 247sports.com with a total of 68.96 points. Early signing period approached last week and all 6 commits signed their letters of intent. At year 2, we are already seeing a difference between the way Juwan Howard recruits and the way John Beilein recruited. 

The main difference between Howards recruits and Beilein recruits is their recruiting ranking. Many have pointed out that “stars” do not matter when it comes to recruiting as diamonds in the rough can be found. One of those guys is Trey Burke. Burke was just above the top 100 ranked at the 93 player in his class. Many teams overlooked him due to his small size and average athleticism. Burke blew up at Michigan and won Naismith Player of the Year and led the Wolverines to the National Championship in his sophomore year. Beilein has shown he can develop players into mature basketball players, but never showed the ability to land a star. In his 12 years at Michigan, Beilein only landed one 5 star: Glen Robinson lll. Robinson was a stud at Michigan showing rankings do matter, but other than that, Beilein failed to land any other highly recruited players. The main reason for that is that Beilein liked to shorten the number of scholarships he offered. He rarely offered more than 10 players in one class. He would rather have those guys come to the school for a few years as he develops them to become a better prospect for the NBA. However, Juwan Howard has been the exact opposite as Beilein in his short tenure at Michigan so far. Coach Howard has shown no fear in offering as many prospects as he pleases. Juwan offered 23 players a scholarship in the 2020 class alone. He is doubling the amount of offers that Beilein used in his years as coach. This tactic looks like it is paying off as Juwan is landing some stars in the recruiting trail. Howard landed top 10 center Hunter Dickinson out of Dematha Catholic. Recruiting is heating up in Ann arbor as Michigan has landed 6 recruits and maintains the #1 class in the country. Those recruits include three 4 star recruits, one 3 star recruit, and two 5 star recruits. The 5 star recruits are Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabte. Let’s get into more detail with these recruits and how they will play at Michigan 

Caleb Houstan: The 5 star dropped his top 4 in the fall including Alabama, Virginia, Duke, and Michigan. His recruitment was very silent as he reclassified from the 2022 class to the 2021 class. As late October hit, a few crystal balls flooded in before he eventually committed to Michigan on October 30th. Since Caleb does not have social media, this was a surprise to many in the recruiting world. Caleb is the best recruit in Michigan history (according to 247sports) and the best recruit in the last 20 years according to the great Jalen Rose. Getting into Caleb’s play style, he reminds me of Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors. Caleb’s knockdown shooting and aggressive defense led me to make this comparison. Caleb has been labeled as the best shooter in the 2021 class according to recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer. He can spot up and shoot, or he can shoot off the dribble and create his own shot just like Klay. His finishing ability is good for a player that is not crazy athletic. Caleb rebounds the ball well for a smaller power forward. Lastly, he can guard any position on the court. He is normally put on the best player of every team they play just like Klay Thompson. He has great ability off the ball and in his help defense. All around, Caleb Houstan is a fundamentally sound player, and with the increase of his athleticism, he will be a mid 1st round pick in the 2022 draft. 

Moussa Diabte: Moussa has had one of the most silent recruitments in his class. The 5 star rarely talked about his recruitment and focused more on getting better and winning games. Around noon-ish on November 9th, Moussa committed out of nowhere and announced he would be playing for Juwan Howard, according to Tipton edits. The lengthy 6’10 stud out of IMG has one of the best work ethics he’s ever seen. His coach, Sean McAloon, said, “His motor is unquestioned, probably one of the best I’ve been around.” Moussa is the 3rd best player ever to commit to the wolverines according to 247sports. Moussa’s style of play reminds me of Lakers PF Anthony Davis. His shot-blocking ability is very impressive like AD. Moussa can guard every position on the court and stays in front of guards outside the three point line. He also has an unorthodox way of finishing under the basket, as well as his very aggressive rebounding that cause him hit the glass unless you pile bodies on him. He also can stretch the floor like Davis. Moussa is a very good mid range shooter and can hit threes when needed. If Moussa is developed well under Howard, I can see him taken in the lottery of the 2022 draft. 

Michigan looks to be set for years with the way Howard has been recruiting. They look to position themselves on top of the Big 10 for years to come. With rival schools Michigan State and Ohio State also recruiting well, it will be a rigid path to a Big 10 championship. The last question that Michigan fans and the rest of the Big 10 is wondering is: Can Juwan Howard coach at a high level?