LAS VEGAS — Right now his priority is earning a training camp invitation, yet Matt Howard had plenty of time to bask about his four years playing at Butler University under coach Brad Stevens, the Celtics’ new coach.
Howard, who left Butler in 2011 after a storied career that included appearances in consecutive national championship games, is playing for the Memphis entry of the Las Vegas Summer League. He had nothing but compliments about his former coach, who delayed attending the Celtics’ summer league to participate in an event that honored Howard.
Howard’s hometown of Connersville, Indiana was celebrating its bicentennial and Howard’s father asked Stevens to participate months ago. Stevens fulfilled his commitment,
“It meant a lot to (my dad) and I know everybody there and really to me that he honored that commitment to my dad,” Howard said. “I really appreciated it. It shows a lot about Brad.”
Howard said Stevens should adapt well to relating to NBA players despite his lack of professional coaching experience.
“He has a great bond with us players and I think he really tries to get to know each player, how they tick and try to make them better,” Howard said. “And then within the game, I haven’t been around anyone who is so good at making adjustments. You go and watch Butler over the years out of timeouts, see how effective and efficient they are, that’s coaching. There’s so many angles and he’s always one to learn. I think that makes for a great coach.”
Howard said he keeps in close touch with Stevens, and that is exemplary of his commitment to players.
“My whole career was with him at Butler and he’s a players’ coach,” Howard said. “He has great relationships with all his players. He really wanted to get to know them. I think that most guys that want to have a relationship do. If for some reason it doesn’t work out, it’s not because he isn’t trying. I know that’s what he’s going to do and I think he’s going to be fine because I saw it in my four years with him.”