Of Dee and Roger

Of Dee and Roger

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Juwan Howard has been hired at Michigan.


Juwan Howard's name popped immediately in the discussion of Michigan's replacement for now former coach John Beilein. Howard, now an assistant coach for the Miami Heat, has received plenty of support for his potential return to his alma mater.

The idea of Howard heading back to Ann Arbor, Mich., sparks an interesting question. Who would be the comparable player-turned-coach at Illinois? The likeliest options were actually Illini teammates.

Roger Powell Jr. has carved out the makings of a strong coaching career and will follow his time at Valparaiso and Vanderbilt with Bryce Drew on Mark Few's coaching staff at Gonzaga starting with the 2019-20 season. Powell has followed an upward trajectory since his playing career ended — from assistant to associate head coach under Drew to a spot with a nationally-relevant program like Gonzaga.

The former Illini that could capture the fan base's attention and imagination, though? There might be only one — Dee Brown. The All-American guard stands as perhaps the most popular player in program history. His headband and jersey pop are iconic.

Brown's playing career lasted a little longer than Powell's, so his coaching career is still in its beginning stage. Brown will start his third season as an assistant on Steve McClain's coaching staff at Illinois-Chicago in 2019-20.

Neither Powell nor Brown have probably reached the stage of their careers that Big Ten head coach would be the next step. Additionally, Brad Underwood still has plenty to accomplish at Illinois. But if one day there's a call for a former Illini to take the reins? Think Brown or Powell.