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Head coach Juwan Howard, Michigan Wolverines net top-rated recruiting class in men's college basketball, Michigan State's Tom Izzo has 6th best

By JOHN MARSHALL

AP Basketball Writer

Juwan Howard’s coaching acumen was never in doubt when he took over as Michigan’s coach in 2019.

He played 19 NBA seasons, winning two titles with Miami, and spent six seasons as a Heat assistant under Erik Spoelstra.

He clearly knows the game.

The biggest question in Howard’s return to his alma mater was whether he would be able to recruit at a high level to keep up in the Big Ten and nationally.

Howard’s 2021 class, rated No. 1 in the 247Sports composite, leaves no doubt.

“I just go after guys that fit our culture and it’s great to see those who have chosen Michigan embrace the vision we have moving forward,” Howard said. “Yes, every coach in a pandemic world at the collegiate level has pivoted in a way where you had to figure it out. Our staff, we didn’t make any excuses. We had to figure it as well and see what was the best way to go out there and recruit.”

They clearly handled it well.

The first day of the early signing period was Wednesday, but Michigan won’t officially announce its 2021 recruiting class until the last player in it has signed on Friday.

The six-player class is headlined by Caleb Houstan, a 6-foot-8 Canadian forward, the No. 8 overall recruit in the country. He will be joined by another five-star recruit, Moussa Diabate, a 6-10 French forward who’s rated No. 20 nationally.

The class also includes guard Frankie Collins, Kobe Bufkin and forward Isaiah Barnes, all four-star recruits. Three-star forward Will Tschetter rounds out the class.

KENTUCKY HIGH AGAIN

Kentucky coach John Calipari has been one of the nation’s best recruiters since arriving in Lexington and has another stellar class going.

Kentucky’s 2021 class, headlined by five-star forward Daimion Collins (No. 19 overall) is ranked No. 3 nationally and could get better with Calipari pursuing two other top-rated recruits.

IZZO’S TOUCH

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has shown a knack for recruiting elite-level recruits through the years and showed Wednesday he’s still got it.

Izzo’s latest class is rated No. 6 nationally, with all three players ranking in the top 75 nationally.

Max Christie, a five-star 6-6 shooting guard from Rolling Meadows, Illinois, was the highest-rated of the group at No. 15 nationally. He’ll be joined by 6-3 point guard Jaden Akins (No. 65) and 6-5 guard Pierre Brooks (68), ensuring Michigan State will be loaded with talent next season and beyond.