We’ve been staring blankly at NBA Draft boards for months now, trying to find any sort of sign that will give us any sort of clarity for next year’s Marquette men’s basketball roster. We know that Markus Howard’s professional future is unfortunately limited by his height, but attempting to determine what a college student wants to do with his/her future is as useless as the NCAA. As was the case of Vander Blue a few years back, these decisions are ones that can only be known by the player.
Of course, Markus does not owe us anything. Our emotional investment on him is entirely of our own doing and should not at all be a factor in his decision whether to pursue NBA dreams or not. Still, we had to have the conversation of just how crucial this decision was for the program as a whole. The difference between Howard being on the team or not is the difference between a Final Four contender and maybe a fringe Top 25 team. The odds of him leaving early were small, but the worry still remained. Not for long, however.
About as quickly as Ja Morant ended the 2018-19 Marquette season, Markus Howard quelled our fears by announcing he is coming back for his senior season.
I expected him to at least go through the NBA Draft process, so I’m surprised by the lack of time spent on the decision. Still, we could be overestimating the amount of feedback these fringe-second round candidates are receiving. Does Markus really need to go through the song and dance of travelling to camps if he’s just going to hear that he’s shorter than most NBA point guards? If you or me or your roommate or your cousin’s nephew’s girlfriend’s pet rabbit could give you that evaluation, it might just all be a waste of time for Howard.
Regardless of the specifics, it didn’t seem like he needed to think about the decision much, as this announcement came the day after the NCAA mandated deadline to be able to declare for the draft and still maintain your eligibility. It’s been clear since his decision to start his Marquette career early that his dedication to the team is unlike any player that we’ve seen. He is about as great of an ambassador to the school as he is a player, and that’s saying a lot. Barring catastrophe, he will end his career as the top scorer in Marquette history and in the conversation with Dwyane Wade as best player in the program’s storied history.
Now that the roster is set, you will be seeing a lot of talk about the team’s expectations in the year to come. This is the team that the fans have been begging head coach Steve Wojciechowski to build, and he’s delivered on the construction aspect. The hardest, but hopefully the most fun, part starts in November. Oh god we have 7 months to think about this. Jesus what am I even going to do until then? Probably just watch highlights from last year, if I’m being honest.
Speaking of highlights....