Jeff Howard saw Plainfield South’s opening for a varsity boys basketball coach as an opportunity for everything he’s learned to come together.
“This is just a wonderful opportunity,” Howard said. “It’s a chance for me to showcase what I’ve learned here in Indiana, what I’ve learned previously when I coached in Illinois and the kids are the ones who are going to benefit.”
Howard played college basketball for Anderson University in Indiana, where he still ranks sixth all-time in scoring and holds the record for most games started in a season at 32. He earned NAIA All-American Honorable Mention honors and was a National Christian College All-American.
Anderson inducted Howard into its university hall of fame in 2018.
Howard wanted to keep basketball in life so he pursued coaching after playing some semiprofessional basketball. Since then, he’s served as a high school assistant, junior varsity coach, head varsity coach, junior college coach, led a semiprofessional team and coached a middle school team this past season.
Plainfield School District 202 approved Howard’s hiring during Monday’s board meeting.
Howard started his coaching career in Illinois but spent the last 17 years back home in Indiana.
He stepped away from coaching during his first year of earning an administrative license at Ball State to become a principal, but he returned to coach semiprofessional and middle school basketball the last few years, where he rediscovered how involved he wanted to be the with the sport. So when Plainfield South posted a dean position as well as its boys basketball job, Howard knew he had the experience to build a strong program.
“That let me know that I still have that passion and that drive to develop players, and that’s what you do at the high school level,” Howard said. “They need to be developed.”
Howard’s experience at different levels stood out to Plainfield South athletic director Chet Lines. During his 21-year career, Howard has coached two McDonald’s All-American candidates, led players who went on to play collegiately at schools like Wisconsin and Auburn and earned coach of the year honors.
Lines and Howard connected during the interview process, and Lines said the Plainfield South administration fell in love with Howard’s approach.
“It was very apparent from talking to him that he wants this challenge and he just needed the opportunity,” Lines said. “We thought it was a great fit here.”
Howard’s plan to build a successful program at Plainfield South comes from his experiences. He knows what to look for in a feeder program based on his experience in the middle school level and values the importance of a successful JV program.
Having coached at the junior college level, Howard said he can develop his high school players so that they can succeed not only at Plainfield South, but in college as well.
While Howard has the vision, he knows he can’t do it himself.
“I have to surround myself with people who have the same vision,” Howard said. “But I can’t do this by myself and I’m not going to try to do it by myself.”
Howard will be at Plainfield South on May 19 for a meet-the-coach night. He and his family hope to move into the community sometime in June.
Once settled in, Howard plans to build those relationships with the players on his current team with summer practices and also with players in the community at the middle school level through summer camps.
“I’m just wanting to continue to do what I know to do,” Howard said. “That’s to help young men and their families to get to that next level like someone helped me.”