Barry Jackson

Michigan reportedly to interview Heat assistant. And the Heat’s Kentucky question

‘I’m still chasing another championship,’ says Pat Riley

Pat Riley speaks about his future with the Miami Heat during an interview with Dan Le Batard on ESPN's SportsCenter.
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Pat Riley speaks about his future with the Miami Heat during an interview with Dan Le Batard on ESPN's SportsCenter.

Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard reportedly will meet with the University of Michigan, his alma mater, this week regarding the team’s head coaching job.

According to 247sports.com and “The Michigan Insider,” Howard will meet with Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel on Tuesday.

At least two prominent former Michigan players –ex-basketball star Jalen Rose and former football All American and Miami Dolphins No. 1 overall pick Jake Long – have publicly advocated for Michigan to hire Howard to replace John Beilein, who left to become coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Now that there’s a vacant job in Ann Arbor, let’s do a blank canvas as to who should be the No. 1 candidate. To me, that should be a no brainer,” Rose said of Howard his ESPN morning show. “There’s a guy named Juwan Howard that’s from Chicago.

“He’s going to be able to help recruit that market. All-American in high school, came to the University of Michigan and was a member of the Fab Five. He was the first person to sign their Letter of Intent. In theory, he also helped recruit each one of us. He was always the adult in the room amongst us.”

Howard and Rose were part of that famous “Fab Five” that led Michigan to the national title game as freshmen, before losing to Duke. They also lost the national title game against North Carolina as sophomores.

Regarding what he wants in a coach, Manuel told Michigan reporters last week: “I want somebody who wants to coach and teach young men,” Manuel told reporters this week. “To drive success on the court and off the court. Academically, we’ve been as solid as well as we’ve played. We’ve had young men with character who have done the right thing. So I want that.

“If I can get a proven coach, someone with a track record as a head coach, that’s what I’d like to see. And then I want somebody who can coach, who can develop talent. John did it and this league does it year in, year out without teams full of 5-stars. We develop talent in the league, we’re a tough league that plays hard, so I’m looking for somebody that can develop talent and who can also coach.”

Howard doesn’t have any head coaching experience but has been a Heat assistant for the past six seasons.

Howard also was scheduled to interview for the Minnesota Timberwolves coaching job, with the Heat previously having granted permission.

Earlier this offseason, he interviewed for the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching job, but Frank Vogel was hired for that position.

KENTUCKY QUESTION

Heat president Pat Riley, who was a first-team All-American at Kentucky (1966) and has his No. 42 jersey retired by the school, selected a Kentucky player the last time Miami had a first-round pick (Bam Adebayo) and likely will spend time evaluating three Wildcats players who are all projected by some to be selected in the teens of the June 20 draft: 6-8 power forward PJ Washington, swingman Keldon Johnson and guard Tyler Herro.

The Heat picks 13th in the upcoming draft.

ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla told me that the 13th pick is too high for Herro because of limited athleticism, but ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz disagrees.

“I think Tyler is in a pretty comfortable spot, whether it’s the mid-teens or even late lottery,” Schmitz said. “I think he’s going to look good in workouts because his ability to shoot the ball.”

Herro averaged 14 points per game last season, shooting 46.2 percent overall and 35.5 percent – 60 for 169 - on threes.

Fraschilla said Washington and Johnson are both worthy and viable options at 13, though some have Washington going sooner.

Washington averaged 15.2 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game and shot 52.2 percent from the field and 42.3 percent – 33 for 78 - on threes.

Johnson averaged 13.5 points and 5.9 rebounds, while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 38.1 percent – 45 for 118 – on threes.

“P.J. I think he’s in a very comfortable spot as well, probably likely secured in that late lottery just because he’s so solid and we’ve seen his improvement over the last year,” Schmitz said.

“Keldon is a guy who could probably sneak into the mid to late teens as well just because his physicality, his toughness. I think he’s going to impress teams in the interview process, and for him it’s about shooting the ball well in workouts, I think. That’s going to be the key for him. That’s probably one of the bigger question marks about his game. He shot a good percentage this last year, but he just needs to show consistent confidence from three.”

Adebayo would love for the Heat to select one of those three players.

“They’re all great players because they went to Kentucky,” he said. “I’ve got that much belief in my school and what my past coach [John Calipari] did for us and what he did for them. I feel like they’re prepared for the NBA and when they come here, they’re going to feed into this culture.”

Kentucky isn’t the only school with multiple players in play at No. 13. So is Gonzaga, with forwards Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura considered in Miami’s range. Clarke has said he will work out for the Heat in South Florida before the draft.

North Carolina has two players likely to be selected in the top half of the first round - guard Coby White and small forward Nassir Little - but White is widely expected to be chosen before Miami’s pick at 13.

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