Powered by 17 points from Gary Trent, Jr., and 16 points from Collin Sexton, Team USA exploded past Turkey, 96-56, in the gold medal game of the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship. It’s the 30th straight win for the Baby Nats in the U17 tournament as they picked up their fourth gold medal without ever losing a game in championship history.
This is important, of course, because incoming Marquette men’s basketball freshman Markus Howard was a member of this year’s U17 squad. Howard wrapped up his time in high school early and left Findlay Prep this spring, allowing him to begin his collegiate career well ahead of the Class of 2017 and 2018 recruits that were his teammates in Zaragosa, Spain.
Howard finished the seven game tournament with averages of 11.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 steals. He didn’t lead the team in any of these categories, mind you, but he played in all seven games, averaging nearly 21 minutes an outing as Team USA steamrolled the competition left, right, and center. Their closest margin of victory was a 84-66 victory over Turkey in group play that they clearly got "revenge" for in the gold medal game.
Howard might not have had the scoring lead like Collin Sexton (17.0 ppg), or the rebounding lead like Wendell Carter, Jr., (7.4 rpg), but the 6-foot tall soon-to-be Golden Eagle finished the tournament as the best three point option for head coach Don Showalter. Howard wrapped up his trip to Europe with a 18-37 mark from long range for a shooting percentage of 48.6% and an effective field goal percentage of 73%. Yeah, that’ll be okay. As a team, the Americans shot just 32% from long range, and Howard’s teammates went 28-106 (26.4%) across the board. You can see how useful Howard’s shooting prowess was to the team.
If you factor in his two point shooting in the seven games, Howard’s eFG% goes to 63.9% for the tournament, which, for what it’s worth, would have been better than anyone on Marquette’s squad last year. Yes, even better than Luke Fischer, who finished the season in the top 50 in the country at 60.8%.
There were two other players on the U17 team that Marquette has shown interest, both in the Class of 2018. Carte’Are Gordon (247 Sports Composite #71) averaged 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per game, while Immanuel Quickley (247 Sports Composite #15) contributed just 3.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while playing just short of 19 minutes a game.