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August 27, 2014

Elite 2017 Howard commits to ASU

Markus Howard went in with a plan Wednesday and executed it flawlessly, just as he's done so many times before on the basketball court.

Except this time, Howard, the state's top basketball prospect in the 2017 class, was holding court in a different sense.

On a visit to Arizona State, in front of the school's entire staff, Howard played coy about his intentions until unbuttoning a garment that covered up the Sun Devil t-shirt he wore underneath.

It was Howard's way of saying he is now one of them.

The audience went wild, just as Howard is prone to making happen.

"They just went crazy," said Noemi Howard, Markus' mother. "My other son (Desmond) was taping it and it was pretty funny to see, but a really special moment."

"They had a great vision," Markus Howard said. "They all jumped up and screamed and were very excited. Just for them to be that excited about me shows how dedicated and how loyal they are. They went way beyond anyone I've seen from any other school."

The 5-foot-10, 175 pound Howard quickly established himself as the preeminent production guard in Arizona's 2017 class last season with averages of 23 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 43 percent from 3-point range as a freshman.

Though he's on a pace to become one of the most prolific scorers in state history, Howard wants to make it known he's going to be a point guard at the next level. ASU coaches, he said, have told him they plan to build the team around him. In fact, they told him they're not going to take a point guard in the 2016 class ahead of his arrival.

"They view me as a point guard, a leader of the team," Howard said. "The consistency of the coaches really impressed me. I know that if I was to wait I would have probably gotten some offers from so-called bigger schools but that really didn't matter to me. I just know the trust they have in me and what they've said about how they are going to build the program around me really made me feel great. I felt like I didn't need to hear anything else. ASU is just the place for me. I felt right away comfortable with everything about it.

"Since the beginning, coach Herb (Sendek) has always been there. They've been following me since I was in seventh or eighth grade and I have so much respect for the entire staff. I feel a great family environment around ASU and just want to be part it."

Howard had many nationally prominent programs recruiting him but the commitment comes ahead of a lot of scholarship offers that would have undoubtedly followed.

Rivals.com national analysis Eric Bossi said Howard is among the country's premier 2017 guard prospects, with a skill level that is "off the charts" and an initial ranking that will be among 35-40 players with a four-star designation when rankings are unveiled. Howard has a realistic chance to earn a spot on the USA Basketball team at his age designation in the coming year.

"For us as parents, our job is to just lay it all out on the table and we did that and Markus was adamant, he wanted to be a Sun Devil," Noemi said. "He wants to leave his mark here and be a part of what they're doing at Arizona State and our appreciation and respect for the unbelievable character that these coaches have, is really off the charts."

Howard said in his eyes there's no ambivalence about the seriousness of the commitment. He's made three visits to ASU in the last couple months and even spent time with first-year athletic director Ray Anderson.

"I'm very confident in my decision and am going to stay loyal to the Sun Devils," Howard said. "I know it's the school for me. Right now I'm so happy and excited to be a Sun Devil and I'm going to stay committed."


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