2023 recruit Zaide Lowery talks about why Marquette was the fit for him

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(Photo courtesy of Zaide Lowery)

Zaide Lowery is heading to the collegiate level to play a sport that had not been his “number one” sport until three years ago.

Lowery said football was his main sport while growing up but that switched during his eighth grade season when he turned in cleats for a pair of basketball sneakers.

“It was just more fun than football was,” Lowery said. “I just had more fun on the court with my teammates than I did in football.”

Now Lowery, who is ranked 93rd on the Rivals rating list of recruits in the class of 2023, has become the top high school basketball prospect in southwest Missouri.

“When I first started playing, I didn’t really think basketball was going to be big for me,” Lowery said. “But then around my sophomore year, that’s when I blew up in the summer and that’s when I really got serious.”

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound shooting guard from Springfield, Missouri committed to Marquette April 19. Lowery is the first member of head coach Shaka Smart’s 2023 recruiting class.

Lowery recently spoke to the Marquette Wire following his commitment to the Golden Eagles.

Here is more on the newest Marquette basketball commit:

Importance of relationships 

When Shaka Smart stepped up to the podium inside the Al McGuire Center March 29 of last year for his introductory press conference, he said his number one core value is relationships.

Now with a full season under his belt with the Golden Eagles, Smart has continued to reiterate the importance of relationships either with his past, current or future players.

“Maybe I’m old school but I love the opportunity to develop relationships with guys while they’re still in high school, with their families to really get to know them and even be a part of their growth process before they get to college,” Smart said in a media availability April 13. “And then continue to help them over the months and over the years to become full-fledged grown men.”

Smart’s importance on building relationships helped set Marquette apart from the other schools that showed interest in Lowery.

“They were about the only school (that) really made sure like I felt like they really wanted me there and made me feel like it was just a family thing,” Lowery said. “The other schools that I had offers from didn’t really like text me a whole bunch to check up on me.”

Lowery said he created a close relationship with Marquette assistant coach Neill Berry during the recruiting process, as Berry served as the “main guy” amongst Smart’s assistants.

“He really just making sure that I’m good, like not even just about basketball all the time,” Lowery said. “They’re always asking me how I’m doing and normally he (Berry) FaceTimes me sometimes. Him (Berry) keeping up with me is a big part of me and him in this player-coach relationship.”

Since his official visit to Marquette back in November, Lowery said he has stayed in touch with first-year guard Kam Jones and first-year forward David Joplin.

Mitch McHenry, Lowery’s high school coach, said since Marquette first made contact last July they were “very hands on” in getting to know Lowery as a person both on and off the court.

“With their caliber of recruiting and how thorough they’ve been, they’ve been the best coaching staff that we have experienced in our program that recruited one of our kids,” McHenry said.

Scouting report 

McHenry said Lowery fits the mold of the type of players that Smart looks for.

“He can guard and play multiple positions, he’s very athletic and very smooth,” McHenry said. “He makes the game and his movements look very easy. He’s got a good touch from the perimeter and he can play above the rim. Just the strength that he can play multiple positions, guard multiple positions and move really really well as an athlete are things that they really liked.”

In addition to gaining more experience over the past three years, Lowery’s body has continued to mature and fill out.

As a sophomore at Kickapoo High School, Lowery began the season on the junior varsity team before ending the year on the varsity team in which he served as the sixth man, helping in the Chiefs’ state championship run in 2021.

Lowery said the trajectory that McHenry and his coaches had for him helped with his development and growth.

“It tells me a lot,” Lowery said. “I played with four Division I players last year, I didn’t play much but I was on a court with them and going up against them in practice every day. I feel like it’s going to be a big part of what will help when I get to Marquette.”

Lowery gained more attention this past summer at the AAU circuit with his Missouri Flight team. Over that time, Lowery said he worked on improving multiple areas of his game: using and getting downhill with different moves and using his left hand.

As a junior this past season, Lowery took on a bigger role with the Chiefs becoming their leading scorer and a vocal leader. He averaged 15.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 55% from the field and 38% from the 3-point line.

Vision by Smart and his coaching staff 

Despite being the Chiefs’ leading scorer this season, Lowery said he considers himself more of a defensive-minded player.

And with a coach like Smart, who has made his name with his relentless defense, Lowery said Smart sold him on how he sees Lowery contributing to the Golden Eagles with his defensive skills.

“Really on defense, he talked to me about (stuff) like deflections because I have really long arms and I’m a long kid,” Lowery said. “But on defense is the main part of it. He said I can be aggressive on defense and that’s what they do a lot (of). Deflections is something that they really focus on and feel like I can really help (them) out with that.”

Lowery is set to sign his national letter of intent when the early signing period for basketball Nov. 9.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.