Oak Hill's Pe'Shon Howard commits to Maryland
Pe'Shon Howard made sure a plan was in place just in case Maryland offered him a scholarship this weekend.
The Oak Hill (Va.) Academy combo guard had scheduled an unofficial visit to College Park. Before making the trip, Howard told his father, Bill, that he would commit to the Terps on the visit if given the opportunity.
“[Maryland assistant] coach [Chuck] Driesell and Coach Rob [Ehsan] and Coach [Keith] Booth thought Coach [Gary] Williams was going to offer me next week after their game,” Howard said. “Then they were practicing today and Coach Williams came over and told me he watched my game [on TV] last night [and was impressed]. ... When Coach Williams said [he was offering a scholarship], I looked at my dad and just started smiling. Then I told [Williams] I wanted to be a Terp.”
Howard, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior, said he chose Maryland over offers from Georgia Tech, Northwestern, South Florida, UCLA and Virginia.
“I definitely like the environment, I like the players, the coaches and it’s in the ACC,” Howard said. “The fact that I would play early [was important]. It’s a great opportunity to play against the best players in the country.”
The Maryland staff monitored Howard for most of his high school career. The early signing period, however, came and went without the Terps making an offer. Howard chose to remain on the market in hopes of raising his profile while manning the point for Oak Hill as the Warriors embarked on their typically challenging national schedule.
At the Les Schwab Invitational in Hillsboro, Ore., last week, Howard was at his best. He led Oak Hill to a runner-up finish and was selected to the all-tournament team. Williams told Howard he caught his 21-point performance against Westview (Ore.) on tape delay. That game, Howard said, convinced the Terps’ staff that he deserved a scholarship.
“All the coaches said they like my toughness and that I’m a competitor,” Howard said. “I don’t really back down. Also, just the fact that I’ve been winning all my life. I kind of bring that to the team. I’m a versatile scorer. I play D, rebound and do all the things [you would want a point guard] to do.”
Howard, a Los Angeles native, started his high school career at St. Edward High in Cleveland. He transferred to Oak Hill after his freshman year and became just the second sophomore starter for Warriors coach Steve Smith in his 26 years on the job.
As a sophomore, Howard teamed with Brandon Jennings -- now a rookie point guard with the Milwaukee Bucks -- in Oak Hill’s backcourt and averaged six points per game. Last season he shared the ball with MoMo Jones -- now a freshman point guard at Arizona -- and contributed 12 points per game. This season, Howard has averaged 15 points per game, leading Oak Hill to an 18-1 record.
“He’s a big, physical, strong guard,” Smith said. “He’s a combo guard who can play either position. He scores if you need him to and he passes if you need him to. ... He always guards the best player on the other team. I don’t care if it’s a 6-5 guy -- I’ll put Pe’Shon on him. He’s our best defender and he has become a very good 3-point shooter. He’s strong, he drives to the basket and he has a good pull-up [jumper]. He’s going to be a really good player in college.”
Howard said he has been friends with Terps small forward commitment Mychal Parker since his sophomore year and also knows power forward recruit Ashton Pankey from the AAU circuit. He said he's excited to join them, and point guard pledge Terrell Stoglin, as part of Maryland's 2010 recruiting class. Howard thinks his style of play will be the perfect fit for what his future coach wants to do.
“A coach like Gary Williams is the same type of coach as I am a player -- he expects to win,” Howard said. “He’s a fiery coach, and he pushes his players hard to get to the next level. He always expects the best and I know my [future] teammates do too every year. ... I’m someone that's just a competitor and someone that won’t back down in the ACC.”