Bond between Powell, Howard extends beyond basketball

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Photo by Jordan Johnson

Markus Howard (0) attempts a 3-pointer in Marquette's 88-79 loss against No. 13 Seton Hall Feb. 29 at Fiserv Forum.

For the past four years, the highly-touted matchup between BIG EAST senior guards Markus Howard and Myles Powell has always been a spectacle.

“I would’ve paid a ticket to watch these two kids play today,” Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said.

Willard added what makes Howard and Powell great guards is the fact they can make shots even after playing 36 or more minutes.

If the two teams don’t face each other in the BIG EAST or NCAA tournaments, Saturday’s game between Marquette and Seton Hall in Milwaukee was the final time these two standout guards would meet, and neither player disappointed the sold-out Fiserv Forum crowd.

Howard, the nation’s leading scorer, recorded a game-high 37 points. This is the 30th time in his career he hit the 30-point mark. He now possesses 2,700 points and moves into No. 25 on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list, passing Xavier’s Bryan Larkin.

Willard said Howard is elite because he’s able to score despite being banged up and drawing fouls.

“What I’ve always been so impressed with Markus — and he’s young, I didn’t know he was as young as he is — is his stamina,” Willard said. “He’s a phenomenal player.”

Powell scored 28 points, which was his sixth-highest of the season.

“Powell can do everything,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “He can score every which way. You’re always on your heels with him. He’s a great, great college basketball player.”

The two players have gone head-to-head 10 times. They combine for 4,923 points and 670 assists over their four-year collegiate careers.

“We pretty much go through the same thing night in and night out, seeing the double team, having to take the last shot,” Powell said. “We’ve grown, and it seems like everybody in the conference (is) always trying to put us two together. Who’s better than him?”

Howard and Powell are candidates for several of the same awards: National Player of the Year, BIG EAST Player of the Year, Wooden Award, Citizen Naismith Award, Oscar Robertson Award and Senior CLASS Award.

“If there’s anybody in the league that I compare my success to, it’s him. He’s a heck of a player. He’s a great dude on and off of the court,” Powell said.

Howard, a 5-foot-11 guard from Chandler, Arizona, was the 2019 BIG EAST Player of the Year, and Powell, a 6-foot-2 guard from Trenton, New Jersey, was the conference’s 2020 Preseason Player of the Year. Both are expected to be 2020 Associated Press All-Americans and All-BIG EAST First Team honorees.

“It’s bittersweet because you love to compete against a guy like that, because he does nothing but help raise your level of play,” Howard said. “But at the same time, he’s one of those guys who is so tough to play against just because of how talented he is, how good he makes his teammates and the impact he has on the game.”

However, Howard said he’s “fortunate” to be in constant competition with Powell.

“We bring out the best in each other, and our relationship goes beyond basketball,” Howard said.

The two have known each other since their days playing in the Amateur Athletic Union.

“Once we came to college together in the same conference, we just kind of grew,” Howard said.

On average, Howard said he talks to Powell once or twice a week to catch up — but they don’t talk about basketball.

“Basketball can really bring out some of the best things and some of the worst things in you, and I think that gets caught up in a lot of what people can talk about,” Howard said. “We try to just stray away from those conversations and like to have real conversations about life.”

Howard said their unique bond is something most people in their positions don’t have.

“It’s pretty cool to be in competition with somebody, but also away from the court you’re able to share a common bond,” Howard said.

Right after the final buzzer, Powell was the first person to run over and embrace Howard.

“Like I told him at the end, ‘Don’t let this ruin you, the moment, you deserve this,'” Powell said. “I told him that he has a brother for life in me.”

This story was written by Zoe Comerford. She can be reached at isabel.comerford@marquette.edu or on Twitter @Zoe_Comerford.