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From All-American to Head Coach

Three black and white photos showing players in action during a high school basketball game

Though this week’s Big Ten men’s basketball conference tournament was moved from Chicago to Indianapolis, there are many Chicago ties among the teams, players, and coaches. One such coach is the University of Michigan’s head coach, and Big Ten Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year, Juwan Howard.

Howard was born in Chicago on February 7, 1973. He was raised by his maternal grandmother Jannie Mae Howard on the city’s South Side. Howard was an honors student and played center (#42) on the varsity team at Chicago Vocational Career Academy. In 1991, his senior season, he averaged 26.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. Though Vocational lost in the Chicago Public League semifinals that year, Howard was a standout player. He was named to the Chicago Sun-Times’ All-Chicago Public School League boys’ basketball team, the Chicago Tribune’s All-State boys basketball first team, the first team of Parade magazine’s High School All-America boys basketball team, and played in the McDonald’s All-American game. 

One of the top college recruits in the country, Howard chose to play at the University of Michigan. However, the day he committed to Michigan was mixed with sadness, as his grandmother died of a heart attack shortly after his announcement. He finished his senior year of high school living with his coach, Richard Cook.  

At Michigan, Howard gained national fame as a member of the “Fab Five,” the incoming freshman class of All-Americans that would lead Michigan to the NCAA Tournament finals in 1992 and 1993. Although Michigan’s accomplishments were vacated due to NCAA violations, Howard’s All-American status during the 1993–94 season remained intact. Howard would go on to have an astounding nineteen-year career in the NBA, drafted by the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) in 1994 and playing for numerous teams before officially retiring in 2013 with the Miami Heat. He was an assistant coach at Miami until 2019, when he was hired by his alma mater as head coach.

See more images of Chicago high school basketball from our collection

Images: Chicago Vocational High School basketball team beats South Shore High School at Chicago Vocational, 2100 E. 87th Street, Chicago, January 25, 1991. Clockwise from top left: ST-19041586-0109, ST-19041586-0144, ST-19041586-0001, Chicago Sun-Times collection, Chicago History Museum.

Studs Terkel Radio Archive

In his forty-five years on WFMT radio, Studs Terkel talked to the twentieth century’s most interesting people. In 1995, he discussed the book Hoop Dreams: A True Story of Hardship and Triumph with the author, journalist Ben Joravsky. The book grew out of the award-winning documentary Hoop Dreams (1994), in which Juwan Howard briefly appears.

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories
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