If Marquette makes some March Madness noise, you better believe that Markus Howard will be out there giving defenses the blues.
While Zion Williamson has the undisputed title as the most electrifying player in college basketball this year, Marquette’s Markus Howard has been equally impressive on the other end of the spectrum.
Howard doesn’t jump out of the gym and deliver rim-wrecking dunks. He doesn’t possess awe-inspiring athleticism or elite quickness. He’s simply a bucket-getting machine while averaging 25 points, four rebounds and four assists per game this year.
The 5-foot-11 guard scored at least 30 points eight times thus far this season.
Included among those have been some monstrous scoring outbursts: 37 against Bethune-Cookman, 45 in a 83-71 win over No. 16 Kansas State, another 45 against No.21 Buffalo in a 103-85 Golden Eagles victory (in which 40 came in one half), 38 in Marquette’s 66-65 win over Villanova, and a remarkable 53-point effort against Creighton.
“We knew he was good,” Buffalo head coach Nate Oats told the media after Howard scorched his squad for 45 on December 21st. “I saw him score 45 against [Kansas State]. I didn’t think he’d do that against us. We’ve got two pretty good defensive guards. … That was probably the best individual performance I’ve ever seen a kid put on.”
Last year, he dropped 53 against Providence and is the only player in the past 20 years of college basketball to post multiple 50-point games.
Despite his diminutive stature, he has no problem getting his shot off regardless of who’s guarding him. On any given night, against any and everybody, he’s capable of spontaneously combusting for 40 or 50.
Three years ago, I loved watching him go to work at the Hoop Hall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts. Along with Frank Jackson, Lonzo Ball, Mo Bamba, Brian Bowen, current NBA Slam Dunk champ Hamidou Diallo, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk and a few others, Howard’s skill set as a scorer made him stand out from the crowd.
This is what I wrote about him back then:
“A native of Arizona, rumors are circulating that he will reclassify in order to graduate this year and be eligible for college ball next year. He’s received scholarship offers from the likes of Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, UCONN and Indiana.
Howard will not impress you during pregame warm-ups. He looks like your average high school player while others are soaring through the air to rip the rim down, but once the game starts, you cant take your eyes off of him. An exceptional long range shooter, he connected on five three-pointers and scored 25 points in Findlay Preps 73-59 victory over the Toronto Athletes Institute and their much-hyped prospect, 7-Foot-1 Thon Maker.
(Maker is an exceptional help-defender and supreme shot blocker, but he is a work in progress on the offensive end, despite having a pretty decent shot. If you’re one of these talent evaluators calling him the next Kevin Durant because of his size and build, you’re an idiot. Please stop doing that, its unfair to the kid. Maker is very good and his potential is through the roof, but he’s got a long way to go in order to become an impact freshman in college, let alone a stud in the NBA.)
Howard is short and stocky, but his range extends beyond the college three-point line. His body control is exceptional and he’s deadly off the catch-and-shoot, along with pulling up off the dribble. A very good floor general, he also runs an offense while incorporating his teammates.
In Findlay Prep’s second game of the weekend on Sunday, a 91-67 annihilation of Newark, New Jersey’s St. Benedict’s Prep, Howard dazzled again while connecting on six three-pointers en route to 26 points as the Pilots remained undefeated.”
When Howard arrived at Marquette, he was only 17 years old. I was curious as to how his game would translate at the college level given his stature and his lack of elite speed. I knew he’d be a very good college player, but not one who was giving cats 40 or 50 with regularity!
In terms of little dudes who dominated the game on the college level, his performances have put him on par with some of my favorites like Michael Adams, Trae Young, Mahmoud and Dana Barros.
“I don’t think you’re ever excited to really go up against Markus Howard,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard told reporters prior to Howard scoring 26 points, grabbing six boards and dishing out six assists in Marquette’s 70-66 win over the Pirates. “It’s like, are you excited to go get a colonoscopy? … I think it’s a totally different look than any player [we’ve] seen so far, just because of the range Markus can shoot with. I think that’s the biggest thing watching them on film. Some of his shots are like, from the parking lot.”
Still only 19 years old, Howard is on the short list of NCAA ballers under the age of 20 who’ve averaged 25 points per game in the last 20 years. Others on that list include Kevin Durant, Trae Young and Steph Curry, among a select few others.
That’s some pretty impressive company.
So don’t be surprised when March Madness rolls around. If Marquette makes some noise, you better believe that Markus Howard will be out there giving defenses the blues.