Juwan Howard replacements: Ranking Michigan’s best candidates from Sean Miller to Niko Medved

It didn’t seem Michigan would want to part with a Wolverines legend, but Friday afternoon athletic director Warde Manual made the announcement that Juwan Howard would no longer be the university’s head men’s basketball coach.

“Juwan is among the greatest Wolverines to ever be associated with our basketball program. I know how much it meant, to not only Juwan, but to all of us for him to return here to lead this program,” Manual said in a release. “Despite his love of his alma mater and the positive experience that our student-athletes had under his leadership, it was clear to me that the program was not living up to our expectations and not trending in the right direction. I am thankful for Juwan’s dedication, passion and commitment to U-M and for all that he, and his legacy, will continue to mean to Michigan.”

Michigan has been a prime coaching position for years, and the revenue growth of the Big Ten Conference in the past 18 months has made it even more so.

These are some of the coaches UM might consider:

Sean Miller, Xavier – All he’s done is win since becoming a head coach at Xavier in 2004. With the Musketeers, he reached an Elite Eight and Sweet 16 and four NCAA Tournaments in five seasons. His Arizona Wildcats made it to three Elite Eights between 2011 and 2015 and won 30 games four times. Having returned to Xavier in 2022-23, the Musketeers reached the Sweet 16 in his first season. At 55, Miller has a career record of 456-170.

Kim English, Providence – The Wolverines missed out on the chance to hire Providence’s coach in 2019, when John Beilein left after two Final Four appearances to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers and Ed Cooley was sitting right there. In the end, that turned out to be the wrong decision. Would this make up for that? English is not as accomplished as Cooley was five years ago, but English has shown plenty of talent in his rapid rise through the profession. English, 35, spent one year with the Detroit Pistons after a career as a star with the Missouri Tigers. He began his head coaching career in 2021 at George Mason and is 21-12 in his first season with the Friars, who have powered through a season-ending injury to star Bryce Hopkins to reach the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.

Darian DeVries, Drake – After a half-dozen years of coaching exceptional teams at Drake, DeVries has seemed to be on the brink of a big break in the job market for a while. He has averaged 25 wins a year and three times reached the NCAA Tournament, including each of the past two seasons. The Bulldogs upset favored Indiana State in this year’s Missouri Valley Conference final. DeVries has spent his entire career in the Midwest, first playing at Northern Iowa, then working as an assistant coach for 17 years — under both Dana Altman and Greg McDermott — at Creighton before getting the job at Drake in 2018.

Amir Abdur-Rahim, South Florida – What he’s doing at South Florida seems nearly miraculous, but it maybe wasn’t a surprise to those who watched his 2022-23 team at Kennesaw State. They won the ASUN championship in a tough battle against Liberty, then nearly pulled a first-round upset as a No. 14 seed against Miller’s Xavier Musketeers. USF is 24-6 in Abdur-Rahim’s first season and won the American regular-season title. A year earlier, they were 14-18, their fourth consecutive losing season.

Dusty May, Florida Atlantic – His name is going to come up for every big-time job after last year’s Final Four run, but it would seem Louisville and Ohio State have been working on him for a while. Or maybe Louisville again is chasing coaches the program is unlikely to land, and that would leave something of an opening for the Wolverines to pounce.

Bryce Drew, Grand Canyon – The Wolverines have a chance to be wise where Vanderbilt was not in 2019. Their decision to fire Drew remains the most ridiculous coaching dismissal of my 37 years covering college baskeball, and that’s been proved not only by Vandy’s decision this week to remove Jerry Stackhouse, but more to the point in Drew’s consistent excellence as coach at Grand Canyon. The Antelopes have won the WAC regular season twice in four seasons and are shooting for their third NCAA Tournament berth in that stretch.

Nate Oats, Alabama – Oats spent 11 years as a high school coach in Romulus, Mich., before Bobby Hurley offered him the opportunity to become an assistant at Buffalo. With the Bulls, he won the Mid-American Conference Tournament three times and advanced twice in the NCAAs, including an upset of Pac-12 champion Arizona in 2018. At Alabama, Oats’ teams twice reached the Sweet 16, including in 2023 when they were the No. 1 overall seed but lost to Final Four-bound San Diego State. He was heavily criticized for statements made last winter after it was revealed in court that Crimson Tide star freshman Brandon Miller had driven a car carrying a weapon to the site of a shooting. Miller was not publicly disciplined by the university, athletic department or basketball program.

Niko Medved, Colorado State – It’s another successful season for Medved, who has won 20 games four times in six seasons with the Rams and is headed toward his second NCAA Tournament. Medved is a Minneapolis native and attended Minnesota, where he also worked briefly as an assistant coach.

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