For Marquette freshman guard Markus Howard, basketball is very much a family affair.
“My routine for shooting free throws is I take three dribbles, one for my oldest brother, Desmond, and one for my middle brother, Jordan, and one for myself. Then I spin the ball at the end of it and that represents us as a whole, all three brothers all together. That's been my routine ever since I was little and I'm going to continue to do that for as long as I can play,” Markus said.
And it's a routine that has served Howard well. Perhaps in part because free throws run in the Howard family's blood. This season, Markus shot .889 from the line. Meanwhile, Markus’ older brother Jordan, who is a junior at Central Arkansas, ranks 19th in the nation in free throw percentage.
“He kind of brags about it a little bit because he's ahead of me in that aspect,” Markus said with a chuckle.
But where Markus has his brother beat: beyond the arc. He's top in the country in three-point percentage and his brother is seventh. So does Markus brag about his three-point shooting?
“I'm waiting until I get home to do that,” he said with a smile. “We haven't really mentioned it much on the phone, but when we get home, we're definitely going to have some discussions about that.”
“To have the top three point percentage and to make a majority of your free throws, there's a certain composure you have to have, where does that come from?” TMJ4 Sports Reporter Elise Menaker asked.
“That [composure] definitely comes from my two older brothers as well” Markus answered. “They were really the ones to put the ball in my hand… When we were younger, they definitely used to pick on me a lot but I guess that just made me tougher and ready for this type of play.”
Growing up the youngest of three boys, Markus is now the baby of the Marquette bunch. He just turned 18 two weeks ago.
“They [his team] called me kid, baby boy just little stuff like that to try and get on my nerves,” Markus said.
But he’s played like anything but a kid, and after his first NCAA tournament game, maybe he'll have one more thing he can brag about to his brothers.