High profile 2017 point guard recruit Markus Howard visited Arizona State last weekend along with members of his family.
Howard, a onetime ASU commit who re-opened his recruitment just weeks before former coach Herb Sendek was fired, has developed a relationship with new coach Bobby Hurley and is seriously considering the Sun Devils.
"There's a certain type of excitement around the program that wasn't there before," Howard said. "The intensity that coach Hurley brings with his guys and then just a lot of excitement around the program that maybe wasn't there a year or two ago. Just from a fan standpoint, it was awesome to see that in person. He truly fights for his players and wants nothing but the best for them. As a player that's something you want to have in a coach, just a guy who is going to fight for you and believe in all your abilities. I was fortunate to be at the (ASU-Arizona) game and see that and get that experience.
"ASU's been right up there with the schools recruiting me the hardest since he's been there. Coach Hurley and coach Levi (Watkins), they've been in regular contact with me for some time now. We talk once or twice every week I would say and it's been a great relationship since they've been on the job."
One of the most intriguing things about the possibility of playing at ASU according to Howard, is Hurley's background as a former star point guard himself, first as a two-time national champion and Final Four MVP at Duke, and later, as a lottery pick and NBA player.
"Him knowing the position really well, being in the [NBA], being one of the greatest college players of all time, it's definitely a factor when it comes time to make my pick," Howard said. "His experiences and being able to learn from someone like that is very intriguing of course and something I'm strongly considering."
Howard, who left Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona, after a sophomore year that saw him lead the state with a 32.4 points-per-game average, has continued his impressive play for nationally renowned Findlay Prep in Las Vegas.
A current Top-10 national program, Findlay Prep is an undefeated 15-0 on and Howard is the leading scorer for the team, averaging 19.3 points and 3.1 assists.
"It's kind of what I expected, just to compete at that level," Howard said. "Just working with the guys every day, it's been a great experience so far. It's really just helped me a lot with overall growth and development playing against those guys in practice every day."
The No. 36 overall recruit in the 2017 class and No. 8 point guard nationally, Howard has done so well in fact that he's considering graduating a full year early from high school and going to college this fall. It would depend on if a school he'd like to go to has an open scholarship, among other considerations, such as whether he thinks it's in his best interest.
In addition to ASU, Howard is still considering a handful of other schools including Arizona, Baylor, Indiana, and Marquette, with four more official visits scheduled in the next several months.
"I'm figuring out what schools best fit my style of play and where I'd have an opportunity to play right away," Howard said. "That's where I'm at in the process and just trying to take it a day at the time and talk with my family and sort everything out with my family. There's definitely a possibility I'll make a decision in the next couple months or so, and especially with the possibility of reclassification which I'm still considering. It's just going to depend on how things work.
"The reclassification is something I have been thinking about. Academically I only have one more class that I need to graduate, which I'm taking right now. So it's really my decision about whether I leave early or stay another year. Academically I could leave after this year. I've always played up, always played against higher competition. I just feel where I'm at right now, it might be a good idea for me to go to college early so I have more time to develop there to maximize my potential as a player. But it's just something we are kind of talking about and a possibility and nothing we've already settled on doing or anything like that."