USA Basketball Training Camp Veteran: Markus Howard
2016 USA Men's U17 World Championship Team Training Camp Photo Gallery: Part 1 - Part 2
When training camp began on Friday for the 2016 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship Team, 35 participants came from the 2017 and 2018 high school graduating classes. The 36th player is the oldest participant in terms of already being a high school graduate.
Markus Howard (Findlay Prep, Nev./Chandler, Ariz.) always had an idea that he wanted to graduate from high school early, so he could begin his college basketball career.
As a freshman at Perry High School in Chandler, Arizona, Perry averaged 23.0 points along with 3.1 assists per game. The success continued as a sophomore during the 2014-15 season, when he increased his scoring output to 34.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
That sophomore season also included a 50-point outburst against Highland High School. Was the game too easy for Howard or was his knowledge of the game that advanced?
After transferring to powerhouse Findlay Prep in Nevada for what would be his junior and final final high school season, that aforementioned idea of graduating early became a reality.
“I wanted to do it for a long time, but I ultimately decided (to graduate early) after this past season,” Howard said. “I just think I can do most things at my age that others can’t.”
For the plan to come to fruition, Howard needed a place to call home to further his academic and athletic career. During the recruiting process, he considered Arizona State University, Baylor University, the University of Central Arkansas and Marquette University.
The Bears of Central Arkansas aren’t always on the radar of the premier basketball players in the country, but family was tugging at Howard to take his talents out east to Conway, Arkansas.
Howard’s older brother, Jordan, will be a junior for the Bears when the 2016-17 season begins. Third year UCA head coach, Russ Pennell, has a longstanding friendship with the Howard family, something that was a serious appeal to the younger Howard.
However, at the end of the recruiting process, he ultimately decided in early April to attend Marquette.
“It was a tough decision because I got to play with my older brother during my freshman year in high school, and it was a fun experience,” Howard said. “It was difficult knowing the amount of family ties I had to that program, but everyone was more than understanding when I did make my decision.”
Now that one of the most difficult decisions of Howard’s life is behind him, and he will join the Marquette program later this summer, he’s focused on working hard during another USA Basketball training camp.
Howard was a member of the 2015 USA U16 National Team that captured the gold medal with a perfect 5-0 record at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, and earned the United States a qualifying berth in this summer’s FIBA U17 World Championship. He played in all five games and averaged a team second-best 15.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
The two-time USA Today All-Arizona Team recipient has also participated in the 2014 and 2015 USA Basketball Junior National Team October minicamps.
With two days of training camp already behind Howard and the rest of this year’s men’s U17 hopefuls, Howard has already established himself as a ‘veteran’.
“It’s definitely weird. I feel older and more mature because of how many times I’ve been here on top of having the experience of being overseas last year. I feel an advantage in that aspect, but it’s weird knowing I’ll be in college in about a month,” said Howard.
“I’ve been getting used to all the new guys and accustomed again with what Coach Showalter is asking for,” the 5-foot-11 Howard added. “I love being out here with the best and competing, and as a player, that’s what you love to be around.”
If you find yourself observing Howard on the floor, odds are that you will hear him communicating on defense as loud and clear as anyone else. It is a role Howard has learned from experience that can be a determining factor between making a team or not making a team.
“That’s a role I played when we were in Argentina, and I was hoping it would translate to this year,” he added. “I want to make sure I’m one of the most vocal guys around, so when Coach Showalter can’t get to us on the court, then I can be an extension of him.”
Markus Howard speaks from experience, like a true veteran of the game.