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July 11, 2013

Howard makes big introduction on summer circuit

ANAHEIM -- He hasn't played a high school basketball game yet and even so, one Division I basketball coach could be overheard here at Wednesday's opening day action of the Double Pump Summer Tip Off Tournament saying, "he could play for me right now."

Meet 2017 point guard Markus Howard, the engine that drives a completely loaded Arizona Power 16u Black squad that motored over its first opponent of the week and left a lot of fuel in reserve.

The 5-foot-9 Howard will attend Gilbert Perry High next year where his brother is a rising senior Division I prospect in his own right, with an offer on the table from Northern Arizona and interest from many others.

The ability of both players has been forged over the years through the fire of intense 1-on-1 sessions that frequently end in fleeting hostility.

"Bloodbaths, every day," Markus said, in describing the battles. "Sometimes we won't even talk to each other after we play. But it's great competition and only gets us both better."

Markus admits that Jordan, three years older, currently wins more often than not, but is confident that won't always be the case.

"I'll definitely pass him," Markus said. "I have to."

Don't bet against him.

Jordan is a very fine player who deserves a Division I scholarship. Markus has the look of a potentially elite national recruit, something he demonstrated Wednesday with an array of scoring from all levels of the court, jitterbug quickness and a tight handle that in concert keeps defenders constantly on their heels.

"He has to be one of the best point guards in the country in his class," said Power coach John Ortega.

Even in a culture rife with coaches embellishing the exploits of their players, Ortega is probably right. He has no need to oversell Howard.

"The focus for me is just to play hard," Howard said. "I know that I'm younger than most of my teammates and I still have time to impress college coaches but just do well to help my team get wins.

"Playing in front of college coaches, I love it. It's a great opportunity."

Northern Arizona has already offered Howard, just like his brother, and Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Washington State and UCLA are keeping track of his progress, an arrow track that appears headed skyward.

"I'd like to say I mold my game around Derrick Rose. You know, very explosive, get to the rim and finish but also dish out to his teammates and also shoot the mid-range jumper."

Howard has quite a ways to go to be mentioned in the same breath as Rose, but he's certainly got the scent of a great looking young point guard prospect.


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