WHO THE HECK IS MARKUS HOWARD?
That probably was the first thing running through your head when you saw the name flash on the screen. Still, you clicked on it. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. But let me GUARANTEE you something...you'll be glad you clicked on this one.
Markus Howard is going to be a ghost to some of you. For others, you probably have seen him tear your favorite college team apart and wondered "why is no one talking about this guy in the draft?" Well, you might have yourself a good argument, because Howard has been a man possessed all year.
Howard is going to have his fair share of negatives, but we will get into that later in this post. But he's become one of the most exciting players to watch in College Basketball this year. Howard has the ability to flat TAKE OVER games with his shooting ability from deep. Do we have your attention yet? Okay, let's dive in a little deeper and lay down some groundwork.
Markus Howard is the starting point guard for Marquette University. He's a senior, who last year averaged 25.0 points per game. Yes, you are allowed to currently reread that previous sentence. Howard has some flat out ridiculous numbers when it comes to stats, but some other numbers are going to cause red flags for the Senior guard when it comes to his NBA outlook. Howard is listed at 5'11, which shouldn't be a huge deal to some, but NBA evaluators will knock his size. While his height isn't the worst thing, another negative thing for Howard is his wingspan. He's listed as having a 6'0 wingspan. ESPN Draft Expert Mike Schmitz had a great quote about Howard in regards to his overall wingspan.
The list of current NBA players with a sub 6-1 wingspan starts and ends with J.J. Barea. -Mike Schmitz, ESPN
So Howard is going to have a tough time convincing evaluators he can be an exception. Is Howard going to be able to be a factor at the next level defensively with his size? That's going to be a serious question for Front Offices to consider.
When we look at Howard's production over his three-year career at Marquette, it's juicy.
Now that these numbers have gotten your attention...Want to know the most interesting thing about Markus Howard? Well although he will be a senior, Howard is still only 20 years old and won't turn 21 until March. Any time you get a player in the college basketball world that averages 20 PPG or more, you need to make a note of it. But when you follow that with a year north of 25 PPG and flirting of being in the shooting club of 45/40/90, NBA personnel are going to have to take you seriously.
Now whenever you have a player like Howard, you have to figure out if his positives can outweigh his "obvious" negatives in the NBA. We know by just looking at Markus that the harsh truth is, he might have a problem on the defensive side of the ball at the next level against bigger, longer players. But is there enough positives on the offensive side that will make an NBA franchise a believer that he can come in and help. Let's look.
MARQUETTE @ BUTLER 1.30.19
This is an important clip because it shows the IQ that Howard has. He knows that if he wants to continue to dominate as a scorer, he's going to have to figure out a way to create advantages for himself when he's scoring. Howard does a great job of going into the defender's body to help shield his shot. It's a good, useful move for a smaller guard. We also get a look at Howard's ability to explode with his first step.
HESITATIONS/ P&R GAME
Footwork Special. This doesn't look like much but this clip is all about Howard setting up angles for his attack. The first screen is more of a motion to get things rolling and creates positioning, but the second screen gets Howard what he wants. Once Markus sees that the Butler big is coming out, he does a great job of getting him to commit. Then, you might miss it, but he gives a quick hesitation before he explodes to the rim. The hesitation is small, but notice how the Butler big man shuffles his feet. It's all Howard needs to blow by and get an easy lay-up. It's the small details that are going to be huge for his NBA career.
"Welcome to In-N-Out may I take your order?" Okay bad jokes aside, that move was textbook. Great job of Markus by setting up the showing big here and then he's off to the races. Howard basically beats 4 different Butler defenders on this play. Like we talked about earlier, just another great job of Markus using his body to shield the ball away from the defender.
MARQUETTE @ CREIGHTON (OT) 1.9.19
MOVING WITHOUT THE BALL
This is nice. I like how Howard is off to the races the second he lets this pass go. If you slow this down, you can see that Markus does a great job of selling that he's going to continue to come up towards the wing. That "sell" makes the defender try to go on top of the cross-screen. Howard fades, then uses a nice stepback while receiving the pass to create additional separation. This is a good look at Howard's ability to catch and shoot as well. Good motion, simple, smooth stroke.
SCORING VERSATILITY OFF THE DRIBBLE
Nice little punch dribble here to set up the defender. Markus has a great sense of when he knows the defender is in trouble. Once the Creighton defender is out of position here, it's a nice step back for a deep ball...money.
This is where Markus starts to get things rolling. Notice that Creighton ends up switching this screen, which allows Howard to do a great job of setting up his man with a nice couple of moves before attacking. Howard reads his defender like a book here. The moment he sees his man shuffle his feet, it's a blow-by. Once he gets around him, Markus uses a nice gather to the side in order to get the right angle for a floater in the lane.
Can you re-wind that?
There were plenty of clips to run through but trust me, Markus Howard was the reason Marquette got back into this game. Here we are in OT and Howard starts to go BERZERK. Notice the gorgeous 1-2 punch here on a bigger, longer defender. Didn't stand a chance. Howard then stops for a nice pull-up. Some might argue that Markus should have kicked it out to his teammate for a corner three after the defender rotated, but Howard was heating up...I like the aggressiveness.
This is just special. We are talking about a player who just simply willed his team to a tough win on the road during crunch time. Creighton has no answers, and that Marquette bench is in awe. Another nice punch dribble, like we talked about earlier in this game, and Markus drains another step-back three.
MARQUETTE VS #14 BUFFALO
THE SMALL THINGS
It's not a lot...but every little detail counts when you play the way Howard does. Notice the In & Out dribble that sets up his defender perfectly for running into the screen. This creates a window for Howard to launch from deep.
MOVING WITHOUT THE BALL PART II
Another great example of the vision Howard has to get himself open. Odds are this play is by design, but it's still a great job of Howard reading the defender and knowing when to explode and what angle to use in order to give himself the most separation. The defender does a good job of closing on this, but it doesn't phase Markus. Splash.
FOOTWORK FROM DEEP
Here's a great angle at Howard's impressive footwork to create separation. The Buffalo Big does a good job of staying with Howard but Markus launches when he sees the big slightly hesitate. Tough shot but Markus makes it look easy.
Enjoy the Show.
Howard draws another matchup here against a bigger Buffalo defender who he was guarded against in one of the previous clips. The funny thing here is that this isn't bad defense. This is just a ridiculous shot by Markus. You can see what a shifty scorer he can be with the ball in his hand.
Markus Howard decided to return to Marquette for his senior year and he's going to draw his fair share of attention from NBA personnel. His size will be his Achilles heel, and NBA evaluators will want to see if he can take another step forward in his progression on the defensive side of the ball. The offensive firepower is eye-opening, but can Howard put all of the pieces together and make teams a believer that he can become a future asset for an organization? Time will tell.