Could Juwan Howard be next head coach of USA Basketball?

Could Michigan basketball’s Juwan Howard be the next head coach of Team USA? Here’s why it would make sense. 

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games have drawn to a close and once again the US won the gold medal in men’s basketball. It was the fourth consecutive gold medal for the United States. Despite the gold medal, it was not one of the more dominant performances we have seen from Team USA.

The team lost its first game of the Olympic round to France 83-76. It was Team USA’s first loss in Olympic play since the 2004 semifinals. Team USA also to Nigeria and Australia during the exhibition games.

Part of the team’s initial struggles was due to the roster as the team missed many of the game’s best players like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard.

However, there was also a disconnect with the coaching staff. There were reports of players being disgruntled with coach Gregg Popovich running his Spurs-style structured offense. You would think Popovich would be the perfect coach for USA Basketball given the international influence on the Spurs during his tenure.

However, Popovich will be 75 in 2024 and there are no guarantees he will be coaching the team in Paris. If USA Basketball does go in a different direction, perhaps Juwan Howard will be a name of interest.

Juwan would be a solid fit for Team USA

Though Juwan Howard has only been a head coach for two seasons, he has already built quite the resume.  Prior to coming to Michigan basketball, he spent six seasons with the Miami Heat as an assistant coach and was in line to get an NBA head coaching job before returning to Michigan.

Heck, NBA teams are still interested in hiring him. Howard has already proven to be just at x’s and o’s as he is on the recruiting trail. It is part of what makes him an ideal candidate.

Throughout all levels of basketball, few individuals in the sport have more connections than Juwan Howard. Howard is beloved not only by AAU coaches and parents but also NBA superstars/future hall-of-Famers LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

If Howard was the head coach of Team USA, there would not be many issues regarding coach-player relationships. Howard knows how to connect with today’s players (he played against some of them) and motivate them.

Additionally, while Michigan basketball does run its sets, Howard has shown he does not have a problem handling his players the ball and letting them create. I don’t think the NBA superstars would have a problem with Howard’s playbook.

Howard’s age would make him an ideal candidate if new managing director Grant Hill wants someone that will be around for a while.

Howard will be 51 in 2024. It is unclear if future USA Basketball coaches will serve as coach for multiple Olympic cycles. Hill’s college coach, Mike Krzyzewski, served as USA Basketball’s head coach from 2005-2016. Howard is right in his coaching prime if he is the next head man.

The length of Coach K’s tenure was often criticized by other college coaches because of the access he had to recruits at the FIBA youth tournaments and USA basketball headquarters.

Duke has always recruited well as a blue blood but, its recruiting went to another level after Coach K took over for USA Basketball. Duke became one of the top destinations for one-and-dones, along with Kentucky. Duke used that recruiting advantage to win two national titles (2010 and 2015) during Coach K’s tenure as USA Basketball.

While Juwan Howard doesn’t need much help recruiting trail, every little boost helps, particularly if it helps Michigan basketball cut down the nets in April.

If Duke can have a recruiting advantage like that over the rest of the country, why can’t Michigan?