The name seems ordinary. The person is extraordinary.
As I lay in my bed for 10 hours a day and reflect on my time at Marquette, one name keeps popping into my head: Markus Howard. I decided I wanted to take some during what would have been Senior Week to honor Markus. Unfortunately, his senior season was cut a bit short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there’s still a lot of greatness that we were blessed to witness. Both on and off the court, Markus Howard is one of the greatest ambassadors that Marquette University has ever had. A lot of Marquette basketball fans have a Markus story. Here’s mine.
Last week I graduated from Marquette. I’ve spent six great years at Marquette. Come to think of it, that’s one-fourth of my entire life. Enough for a lifetime of memories. I remember the first time I walked into Abbottsford Hall my freshmen year, I thought to myself there’s something special about this place. I made some amazing life-long friendships and met some incredible mentors and professors. Life wasn’t always easy. I had my fair share of struggles making friends at first, failing some classes (I don’t math well), and trying to understand how the whole dating thing works… I regretfully report that I still haven’t figured that one out.
But in all seriousness, Markus Howard is the person that I will remember most from my journey at Marquette. I always found myself in awe and wonder while watching him play. Countless times I said, “There’s no way that’s going in!” when he would fire off his patented fadeaway three-pointer off one-leg with a hand in his face while falling out of bounds. Countless times I would shake my head in amusement and chuckle as I stared in bewilderment as the ball would fly through the hoop. Countless times I would look over at my friend in shock as Markus would scissor his way into the lane, contort his body as if he was made of Jell-O, and caress the ball into the basket while getting knocked to the ground. Countless times I would stand up and bear hug everyone around me at first at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, then at Fiserv Forum as Markus would lift his arms in the air after hitting a monumental shot.
It’s this energy and electricity about him that made Markus such an exhilarating player to watch. You never knew what he was going to do next. You never knew what was going to happen next. He’s the type of player that makes you forget about all your problems. Your eyes were glued to the court for 40 minutes because you didn’t want to miss a second of his brilliance. I am very thankful and fortunate that my time at Marquette lined up with his four years on the court for the Golden Eagles.
Howard’s emergence on the scene as a steely-eyed shooter and development into the best scorer in the country yanked Marquette hoops from a program suffering from the aftershock of Buzz Williams’ departure to an exciting and electrifying team that could challenge the best teams in the nation any given night. Markus had so many spectacular performances that it’s hard to single out one game.
I will never forget the first time I realized I was watching one of the all-time greats. It was National Marquette Day his freshman year. He scored a then career high 34 points and tied the program record with nine made threes to take down Xavier. Not only did Markus have a career day, but it was 50 degrees on National Marquette Day in the middle of February. The game was an evening start, too, which created the perfect storm for one hell of a celebration all weekend. To this day, that’s the greatest scheduling decision the University has ever made.
I will never forget the first time he he broke the 50 point barrier, going for 52 against Providence his sophomore year when he was unconscious from deep canning 11 three-pointers. It turned out to be his majestic slashing and-one lay-up that tied the game at 79 and sent it to overtime. Marquette needed all of Markus’ 52 points in a nail-biting overtime victory. You thought 52 was nice?
I will never forget when he dropped 53 at Creighton the following season to rewrite the Marquette and Big East record books once again. There was A LOT to remember from this game. Particularly the end of regulation when Sam Hauser casually drained a Hail Mary three-pointer from downtown Green Bay with time expiring to send it to overtime. Markus had 39 points at that juncture. He proceeded to dominate the extra session scoring 14 points in five minutes. Once again, Markus’ Herculean effort propelled the Golden Eagles to victory.
I will never forget when Buffalo came to town in mid-December of Markus’ junior year. I was already home from school in full vacation mode and watched the game from the comfort of my couch with a large bag of cheddar and sour cream flavored Ruffles and Fierce Grape Gatorade. I remember it as if it was just yesterday. In case you forgot, Markus had scored a grand total at 5 points at halftime along with 5 turnovers and two fouls. Thanks to the Hauser brother’s combined 18 points, Marquette was still up one at the half. It was The Markus Show in the second half as the assassin struck repeated blows to the Bulls scoring 40 points in 19 minutes. I am convinced this is an NCAA record for most points scored in a half. Prove me wrong. When Markus does his Markus things, it’s the purest form of joy a basketball fan can experience.
What was your favorite Markus moment? There’s certainly no shortage of spectacular performances to choose from. Markus’ outstanding play in the Orlando Invitational this year is also on the shortlist of all-time great moments. We here at Anonymous Eagle ran a bracket last summer asking you all to vote on Markus’ best 30+ point games. You all chose the 45-point performance against Buffalo over the aforementioned 52-point barrage against Providence as the winner. Stay tuned because we’ll have to update that bracket this summer.
Marquette Basketball has had many ups and downs in my time here in Milwaukee. The one constant has been Markus Howard. His ability to do something magical gave the Golden Eagles a puncher’s chance regardless of how badly the cards were stacked against them. Although it’s a shame Markus will end his Marquette career without having won an NCAA Tournament game, I choose to focus on everything he did accomplish as a Golden Eagle. He essentially broke every record for a shooter in the books. His highlights include Marquette’s all-time leading scorer, the Big East record for career points in league games, Marquette and Big East record-holder for most points in a game, and Marquette’s leader in made threes (no surprise there). Check out some of his other notable records here.
The question now becomes: Will Markus hear his name called in the 2020 NBA draft? I am confident that Markus can play professional basketball. I know, big step out on a branch that this guy can draw a paycheck hucking the ball through the rim. The good news is that he’s currently projected by many mock drafts as a late second-round pick. Here’s a recent article from our friends over at Paint Touches that details what Sam Vicenie of The Athletic thinks of Markus’ draft prospect. Though his future may be uncertain, he has cemented himself as one of the all-time greatest players to ever don the Blue and Gold.
In a time when Marquette basketball was unpredictable and erratic, Markus was the steadying force that consistently delivered remarkable performances game after game. No matter what the team was going through — hello, the end of the last two seasons — I knew I needed to tune in to be able to see Markus Howard do what he does better than anyone else. His ability to do the unthinkable with the basketball gave me a sense of joy that is unlike anything else I’ve experienced watching sports. Markus Howard is simply the greatest scorer I’ve ever seen play college basketball. He will be remembered as one of Marquette’s all-time greats.
For everything he did on the court, he was also an amazing ambassador for Marquette off the court. His dedication to community service stands out the most. He started a religious bible study group to bring athletes together in their faith. Two years ago he went on a service trip to Costa Rica with other student athletes. They built a basketball court in Juanilama, Costa Rica as a part of a program called Courts for Kids. Markus has also been a leader in raising awareness about mental health. Here’s a video where he talks with ESPN’s Jen Lada about the importance of taking care of your mental health. Markus has made the Marquette community proud with his accomplishments on and off the court. His impact at Marquette will never be forgotten.
Finally, I want to wish Markus the best of luck wherever his career takes him. He definitely has a bright future ahead, even if/when that doesn’t involve basketball down the road.
Markus, thank you for all the treasured memories.