The current college basketball season has been billed the “Year of the Freshmen.” Lonzo Ball has brought basketball back in Westwood, De’Aron Fox and Malik Monk are wreaking havoc in transition, and Markelle Fultz is up in Seattle putting on a show despite a lack of talent surrounding him. One freshmen that did not receive any type of fanfare coming into the season and who is still managing to fly under the radar is Marquette’s freshman point guard Markus Howard.
|photo from AZ Central|
Howard did not score in his first college game playing just 11 minutes against Vanderbilt, but through four conference games in the Big East he is averaging 20 points a game and 3.3 assists, while shooting 55% from the field and an ungodly 70% from the 3-point line. In an easy win over Houston Baptist, Howard scored 13 points, which was his second double-digit scoring effort of the year. From that point on in late November, Howard has scored double figures in 9 of his last 10 games, including 15 points in a win against Georgia and 22 in a loss against Wisconsin. On the season as a whole, Howard is shooting 51% from the floor, 57% from the 3-point line (37-65), and 94% from the free-throw line. When looking at players that use at least 20% of their teams’ possessions, Howard ranks No. 11 overall in the country and No. 4 amongst freshmen with a 127.7 Offensive Efficiency rating.
When Howard committed to Marquette last April, Scout.com had him ranked as the No. 50 prospect in the junior class (2017). Upon commitment, he decided to re-classify up to the 2016 class so that he would be able to start playing college this season. Entering Marquette, Howard was ranked him as the No. 77 player in his class by Scout.com.
During high school, Howard always managed to outplay his ranking so it is no surprise that this time he’s doing it again in college. In his first two years in high school, Howard torched the nets in the state of Arizona averaging 23 points per game as a freshman and then a state leading 32.4 points per game as a sophomore. Prior to his third season, Howard transferred to powerhouse Findlay Prep where he promptly led the Pilots in scoring at 18.6 playing top competition throughout the U.S.
Scoring has always seemed to come naturally to Howard, even when faced with stronger competition than what he saw in Arizona. In his lone EYBL season, Howard averaged 20.2 points per game outscoring players such as Monk, Harry Giles, and Jayson Tatum. He also finished second in scoring on the USA U16 gold medal winning team in the FIBA America’s and third on the gold medal winning U17 team.
While he is yet to generate the national buzz similar to other freshmen guards, the sharp-shooter is quietly putting together a stellar season, and one that should have him in contention for Big East Freshman of the Year come March.