BARTLETT, Tenn. -- Early in the broadcast last weekend, after Jett Howard made another nice play during the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic on CBS Sports Network, two-time NBA champion J.R. Smith offered some commentary that caught my attention. He described Howard as "the most pro-ready guy here."
This was an interesting remark because Smith had spent time here in this suburb of Memphis working out with the Iverson Classic participants, most of whom were elite prospects in the Class of 2022. He seemed to have a good grasp of their games, and he was convinced Howard was the most pro-ready player in the gym even though many prospects ranked ahead of the Michigan signee were also in attendance -- among them five-star recruits like Baylor's Keyonte George, Kentucky's Cason Wallace, Oregon's Kel'el Ware, Houston's Jarace Walker, Alabama's Brandon Miller, Texas' Arterio Morris and Arkansas' Anthony Black.
Each of those players is ranked in the top 20 of the Class of 2022, according to the 247Sports Composite; Howard is a four-star prospect ranked 40th. So to hear Smith describe him as "the most pro-ready guy here" was something that stood out, and Howard did nothing as the game progressed to make Smith's assessment seem hyperbolic. The 6-foot-7 wing took 12 shots, made nine and finished with 20 points in a 120-110 victory. He made shots from the perimeter. He beat defenders off the bounce to get to the rim. He secured MVP honors while his father -- Michigan coach Juwan Howard -- sat in the bleachers and smiled.
Michigan HC Juwan Howard talks about his son, Jett, who is playing in the Iverson Classic pic.twitter.com/6C3DoyLkkM— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) April 30, 2022
"I just tried to have the most fun with it, listen to my coaches and play hard," Jett Howard told me following his MVP performance, which came one day after he won the Iverson Classic's 3-point competition.
Just before I spoke with Howard, and right after he accepted the MVP trophy, Allen Iverson, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer and namesake of the event, pulled him aside and offered encouragement.
"It's easy for you," Iverson said. "It comes naturally for you. All you have to do is keep working."
So, yeah, it was quite a weekend for Jett Howard.
It suggests Michigan is in for quite a season.
The Wolverines are returning All-American candidate Hunter Dickinson -- and are also expected to eventually bring back former five-star prospects Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, both of whom have entered the 2022 NBA Draft while maintaining their college eligibility. That would obviously be a strong and experienced core. So if Jett Howard is really an immediate difference-maker like he appears to be, Juwan Howard should have a team good enough to win a Big Ten title for the second time in a three-year span.
Michigan is currently 11th in the Top 25 And 1.
That's tops among Big Ten schools.
"It's great to see his growth as far as all of the work he's been putting in since the the time when he started playing the game of basketball," Juwan Howard told me. "And now it's all coming to fruition — and it's moving fast. I get an opportunity to coach him in college. It's a dream come true for both of us."