There is still no firm timetable for Michigan men’s basketball head coach Juwan Howard’s return to the sideline, but the fifth-year leader of the Wolverines did break the silence and release a statement Friday on his recovery from his Sept. 15 heart surgery to have an aortic aneurysm resected and an aortic valve repaired

“I would like to express my deepest thanks to everyone who has sent well wishes, prayers and kind words for me and my family throughout my time away,” Howard said in the statement released through the team’s social media platforms on Friday. “With each passing day, I am continuing to make strides to getting back to 100 percent. It has been hard to be away from these young men, however, I know we will connect soon.”  

This news comes hours after it was announced 6-foot-8 wing Jace Howard, Juwan’s son, will miss the next four to six weeks due to a stress fracture in his right knee and tibia. 

Howard, who is in his fourth year with the Wolverines program, played in 30 games last year but only averaged 7.8 minutes per game. He was expected to take on an increased role this year for a Michigan team that carries questions entering the season and was picked 11th in the Big Ten. 

“This is unfortunate for Jace as he is a vital member of this program,” Juwan Howard said. “We know over the next four to six weeks he will be diligent and work as hard as he can to get healthy.”

The Wolverines will rely upon sophomore guard Dug McDaniel, Tennessee transfer Olivier Nkamhoua and Alabama transfer Nimari Burnett to lead them this year, with Michigan starting the season as a team on the outside looking in with both NCAA Tournament projections and preseason rankings. Coming off a disappointing season in which now ex-Wolverine and current Kansas star Hunter Dickinson along with current NBA players Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin were charging the program but failed to reach the NCAA Tournament, Michigan has many doubters surrounding itself. 

Hall of Famer Phil Martelli is serving as acting head coach for Howard while he is still in recovery. Michigan opens the season on Tuesday night at 8:30 ET on Big Ten Network against UNC Asheville.  

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