June 19, 2013 by Max Meyer
By Max Meyer
Galen Central will be doing a summer series profiling USC’s incoming basketball class, including transfers. Next up is Pe’Shon Howard, a transfer from Maryland who could be eligible immediately if the NCAA accepts his hardship waiver. Read earlier profiles on: Julian Jacobs and Katin Reinhardt.
Pe’Shon Howard was just one of two Maryland players left after the 2012-13 season to have been coached by legend Gary Williams. He was going to be the senior leader of a team that had not made in NCAA tournament appearance during his tenure. Then, Howard received the unfortunate news that his grandmother had become extremely ill.
For Howard, family has always been extremely important. Therefore, he made the decision to transfer to a school in Los Angeles to be closer to his grandmother. He chose USC over the likes of UCLA, Cal State Northridge and LMU. In doing so, however, he left another family behind in the process.
“[My teammates and I] were really close. Not being able to finish with them was one of the toughest parts about my decision,” Howard said. “Having to leave them when I’ve been there for so long was tough for me.”
The former Oak Hill Academy star had a solid freshman season at Maryland, averaging 5.4 points and 3.2 assists in just 18.5 minutes per game. He even led the Terps in three-point shooting percentage that year (35.9%). However, after suffering a broken bone in his left foot to start his sophomore campaign, his scoring production dipped.
One of the biggest reasons why he chose to transfer to USC was because of the way new head coach Andy Enfield studied Howard’s game throughout the young point guard’s career. Enfield was an assistant coach at Florida State when he first met Howard, and it goes to show that a familiar face can go a long way.
“[Enfield] is familiar with my game. In high school and in my freshman year at Maryland, I played differently than my last two years at Maryland,” Howard stated. “The fact that he knows my game and is comfortable with my game was really exciting. I’ll be able to be more free and control the offensive tempo in his offensive system.”
Howard will be transitioning from playing in the more physical ACC to the faster-paced Pac-12. While beating Duke in the ACC tournament last season was Howard’s favorite moment in his collegiate career, playing in the new guard-oriented conference will help his game develop as he becomes one of the guys expected to lead USC on the floor.
And do not think Howard will shy away from being a leader despite just starting out at USC.
Howard has had a leadership role before, especially last season on a young Maryland squad. He wants to lead the same way at USC that he did in Maryland, both by example and with his voice. The one word Howard used to describe himself was “hardworking”, and he expects that to rub off on his teammates. Additionally, as a point guard, Howard is a floor general on the court and communicates with his teammates often during games.
He is also excited to play with incoming freshman point guard Julian Jacobs and shooting guard Kahlil Dukes. However, he sees a benefit to playing with the freshmen beyond being a mentor to them, especially Jacobs.
“I’ll be helping him, but he’ll also be helping me,” explained Howard about Jacobs. “His style of game is a little bit different from mine, so we’ll be able to play off each other and learn from each other. I see it more as a give and take relationship rather than me just mentoring him. But I’m really excited to help him and Kahlil [Dukes] grow while I’m around.”
The NCAA has to accept Howard’s hardship waiver before he plays this season, his final year of eligibility. If the NCAA does accept it, USC will get a major experience boost at point guard immediately. As a result, Enfield’s goal of bringing USC basketball back to prominence may even happen sooner than fans thought.
“This year, not a lot of people have high expectations for this team based off of past years,” said Howard. “This is going to be a different team and different environment. I would say to USC fans to be excited this season, and come into it with an open mind.”
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