Though Penn commit Matt Howard can finish at the rim with an emphatic dunk, his offensive prowess truly lies in his well-developed mid-range game and disciplined decision-making, according to ESPN. Perhaps his high basketball I.Q. should come as no surprise for a player with multiple AP courses under his belt. With his combination of athleticism, scoring ability and basketball intelligence, Howard attracted offers from Stanford and Virginia Tech, but ultimately chose to become a Penn Quaker. A day after a 84-58 blowout of Chapin High School by Howard and his teammates, I caught up with him to talk his decision to commit to Penn, the challenges of juggling school and basketball and highlights from his senior season.
What were you looking for in a school during your college search and the recruiting process?
I was always looking for a good balance between good academics and a good basketball program, and I found that Penn.
Why, among all of the schools that you looked at, did you choose Penn?
I had the best relationship with the coaches, and it was probably my best visit that I went on too.
Do you have any connections to Philadelphia that drew you to a city?
My great-aunt used to live there . . . I have a grandparent in New York, so I passed through Philly a lot on my way there.
From what I’ve read obviously you’re doing pretty well on the basketball court, but you also have to be doing really well in the classroom to be able to come to Penn. Is it a challenge to balance your commitments to academics and basketball?
Yeah, all the time because when I’m tired from basketball I have to study for a test or something like that, but I think I have a pretty good balance between the two.
What are some of your favorite honors courses that you’ve taken?
BC Calculus and AP Physics are probably my favorite courses right now.
To talk a little bit about basketball now, tell me a little bit about senior season with A.C. Flora this year. Have you been pleased with the way the year’s gone and how you’re playing?
Yeah, I’m pretty pleased with how I’m playing right now. I’d like to have a few more wins — I think we’re 12-8 or something like that. But so far, this is my best season by far.
What are you hoping to improve upon even further as you prepare to play at the college level?
Just staying aggressive, my three-pointing shooting and being aggressive on the defensive end.
I saw a clip of a game-winning shot you had against Hillcrest back at the Chick-fil-A Classic in December. I was wondering if you could take me through that play and what your thinking was, if you can remember it.
On that play, there was like seven seconds left, so once I got it out of bounds, I just thought to get it down the court as quick as I could and then once I got it down the court I thought I’d do a fadeaway because I know nobody could block that. And it went in.
See the shot for yourself: