He was right here in Philadelphia.
Ashley Howard, Jay Wright’s top assistant at Villanova, will take over as the Explorers’ next head basketball coach following the departure of Dr. John Giannini after 14 seasons.
You might not know much about him, but you’ve probably seen a lot of him, speaking with Wright on the Nova bench from 2013 to 2018, a stretch that featured a lot of winning and very little losing.
Howard is a Philly native, a Bonner and Drexel grad who saw a collegiate playing career with the Dragons cut short when he was diagnosed with a heart condition. He took an assistant coaching job at La Salle in 2004, went back to Drexel in 2008 in a similar role, and then joined up with Wright five years ago.
Josh Verlin at City of Basketball Love, my go-to site for local hoops, wrote a bit about Howard’s candidacy for the job:
“Ask anybody around Philly hoops which area assistant coach was like to become a head coach, and Ashley Howard was the first name out of his or her mouth.
A CBSSports.com poll last August had Howard as one of the nine assistant coaches voted “most likely to become a coaching star” at some point in his career. Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel had Howard fifth on his list of 12 assistants ready for head coaching looks this offseason. Like Baker Dunleavy, who left Jay Wright’s staff to take over the Quinnipiac job last offseason, it seemed almost inevitable that this was the year that Howard would make the jump himself.
So when La Salle’s head coaching job opened up, Howard’s name immediately came to mind as one of the top potential candidates. Former La Salle star Tim Legler, who had NBA playing and AAU coaching experience but none on a Division I sideline, became a hot name as well, and (Athletic Director Bill) Bradshaw also brought in Duke associate head coach Nate James for an interview.
But there’s no denying all the intangibles Howard had, and as long as he wanted the job — which clearly, he did — then it was going to be his job to lose.”