(CBS)- Markus Howard has heard the doubt and questions all his life. Will his size allow him to hold up at the next level? Can he guard bigger guys on the perimeter? Is he athletic enough to overcome his size?
The fact that those questions persist after a four-year career at Marquette in which he won Big East Player of the Year (2019), led the NCAA in scoring (2020) and was a consensus first team All American (2020) while connecting on over 42 percent of his threes (over 1,000 attempts) might phase some players. For Howard, its just more opportunity to continue to do what he’s done his whole career: prove them wrong.
“If people continue to doubt, there going to continue to make the same mistakes as other people who
have doubted me. I’m going to continue to perform the way that I do at every level,” said Howard in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “I’m just going to continue to do what I do, I’m not going to necessarily listen to people who don’t believe in me or trust in my abilities so, it’s been a constant for me. It’s something I’m very familiar with just because it’s happened to me so many times.”
With the NBA Draft now on the horizon, Howard, like all of this year’s prospects, is just patiently waiting to find out when the event will be. The league previously announced a tentative date of October 16, but nothing has yet been set in stone.
So, for now, the Marquette product is continuing to train, working with his two older brothers (Desmond and Jordan) who got him started playing basketball and his father, Chuck. For Howard, family has played a big part in pushing him to become the player he is now.
“Competition was always big for us. It’s something we always emphasized in everything we did. Me being the youngest, I always had to fight for everything and that was just how it was,” said Howard. “It actually helped me become the player I am today. It was really good for me. We still work together today so it’s a lot of fun.”
Being around family has also helped with what has been an unusual year. As the country deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, everything has been thrown out of whack. But, Howard’s basis in family has helped him to stay focused on the day-to-day rather than worrying too much about the uncertainty.
“I have a very strong foundation at home and strong foundation in my faith and I know it’s just a matter of time before I’m going to be out there playing again so, I treat every day as a blessing. Every day is an opportunity to grow and to get better so that’s what I focus on,” said Howard. “That’s all I can really use my time to. That’s all I can really worry about. I can’t necessarily worry about things that are out of my control like the pandemic and things like that, so my focus continues to be the things that I can do to help prepare myself and put myself in the best position to make one of my lifelong dreams come true. That has been my mental makeup about it.”
Even with that foundation, Howard admits the biggest challenge to overcome during this time was the uncertainty of everything. He’s preparing to take on a childhood dream, but there isn’t a set timetable of when that dream might be accomplished with the league and players association still working out the details on the timing of free agency, the Draft Combine, workouts and Draft itself.
But, even in the uncertainty, Howard has been able to find purpose and growth.
“For me, I’ve been more curious about what my life is going to be like in the coming months. That has been the biggest thing for me. That has been the thing for me that I’ve had to overcome. For me the most difficult thing has been the uncertainty of it all,” said Howard. “That has been kind of a struggle. It’s helped me to grow in an area that I need to which is having patience.”
That patience is helped along by a somewhat normal sense of routine to his offseason. Every year, even while at Marquette, he has been working with his brothers on the court and his dad in the weight room during the offseason. That has been the case again this spring and summer with early morning workouts consisting of an hour and a half on the court with Desmond and Jordan and an hour and a half in the weight room with his father.
“It’s great that I’m able to do it with my family because my dad and brother are really experienced in their field and I’m able to maximize my abilities while also being with my family,” said Howard. “The training is really intense and it’s something we have been doing since March.”
All that training is in service of hearing his name called on Draft night, whenever that may be. He is looking forward to getting to compete against guys like Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant just to name a few.
“That is what you play for to be able to compete against the best,” said Howard. “Those are some of the guys I look at and think it would be a cool opportunity to play against for sure.”
Where does he fit at the next level? Well, he looks at players like San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills or Toronto Raptors guards Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry who are similar in stature but able to provide a multifaceted game for their teams. Howard is confident that just like each of those guys, given the opportunity to show what he can do, he can grow into an even better player than he already is.
“I feel the best basketball is ahead of me. I feel that I’m only going to get better as I grow and mature with my age and knowledge of the game,” said Howard. “For me personally, there is still a lot for me to do. I’m not a finished product in terms of who I want to be as a player and who I’m going to be. That’s the most exciting thing for me.”