Post player to be preferred walk-on
Despite a Division I scholarship offer and plenty of other interest, 6-foot-8
1/2 forward Jeff Howard has decided to accept a preferred walk-on opportunity to
play for the Indiana Hoosiers. The Westfield, Indiana senior spoke to us earlier
today about the decision.
"I guess I made it official a couple weeks ago," said Howard.
Things came together quickly after his senior season at Westfield where he
averaged 16.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.2 blocks and shot 60.2% from
"My high school coach got in contact with them and then I talked to them,
went down and played a little with the guys and then decided," said Howard.
As mentioned, Howard had other options.
"I had an offer from Eastern Kentucky and them some other smaller schools
were looking at me too a little bit," said Howard. "University of Indianapolis,
I had an offer from them. They are D2. I think my coach talked to Purdue and
Butler a little bit (about walking on) but I had never talked to them."
Howard said his older brother attends Indiana.
"I've always wanted to go to school there, before I even thought about
playing basketball," said Howard. "It is a really great opportunity and I did
not want to pass that up."
The future Hoosier is a straight-A student who ranks near the top of his
"I am going into business (major) but I don't have that exactly narrowed down
yet," said Howard.
Howard's 12.9 rebounds per game were fourth best in all of Indiana this past
"I think I am a pretty good rebounder and passer," said Howard. "I got two
new coaches in high school this year and they really helped me with my post
game. I got more (defensive) attention this year and I can find the open guy."
He is ready to expand his scoring as most of his points were earned under the
"It was mainly in the post but I know that I'm going to be asked to work on
my jump shot and my all-around game," said Howard.
His size is pretty comparable to the Hoosier players that manned most of the post
minutes this past season.
"Right now I think am about 6-foot-8 1/2 and 220-pounds," said Howard.
Under new coach Eric Rauch, Westfield went 13-9 this past season after
winning only 18 games the prior three seasons combined.
"We worked hard and we're able to win a lot more games," said Howard.
The final win was a 44-38 upset victory over Carmel in the Class 4A sectional
"We hadn't beat them in awhile but we knew coming in we had a chance and were
confident we could beat them," said Howard.
Carmel features 6-foot-11 A.J. Hammons, a big Class of 2012 recruiting target
for the Big Ten.
"It was a pretty good challenge because he obviously outsized me when I
usually outsize people in high school," said Howard. "But I was pretty confident
in my defense against him. I was able to use my quickness and was able to get
him in some foul trouble. I played him in sectionals the past couple years and
he definitely got a lot better as well as I did."
Summer time play has helped him get a taste of the high major talent.
"I played aau the past couple years and basically went about everywhere,"
said Howard. "Last year I played with Indiana Elite and two years ago I played
for a team that went down to Florida for nationals. Last year we played in Las
Vegas and all around against a lot of really good players. I know there will be
a lot more of that so it at least got me familiar with that challenge."
Howard played against Derek Elston and his Tipton High team in high school
and is getting to know his other future teammates.
"I've been down three or four times in the past couple weeks to just play or
do some pickup games," said Howard.
Lessons have been learned.
"It is a lot more physical, a lot more faster paced, definitely a lot
different than high school," said Howard.
The Westfield native says he will be arriving soon for the second summer
session of classes at Indiana.
"I think I move June 15 and then we have orientation the next two days and
class starts on the 18th," said Thomas
Finally he left us with some thoughts from his new coach, Tom Crean.
"He said he watched game films and stuff like that and he said that liked my
passing abilities and that I can score down low," said Howard. "He said he
didn't want me as a scholarship player but as a preferred walk-on. Just wants me
to come in and work hard and push all the other guys on the team."