Howard nears return to action

Missed opportunities sometimes result from a person's inaction and other occasions are unavoidable, and in those scenarios only a mature individual can endure them without suffering further damage.

Franklin Howard was primed for a big summer. Last year on the travel circuit with Team Takeover, the junior wing had impressed numerous high-major coaches and, in mid-July, appeared on the verge of a consistent, impact month.

But his knee had other ideas. Howard landed awkwardly during a game at the Peach Jam and tore his ACL, putting him out of action his entire junior season. He underwent successful surgery and tried to glean as much as he could from his time away from the court, demonstrating impressive perspective in the process.

"We had a good season, but it was rough on me individually due to the knee injury," Howard told "But I learned a lot while I was out and learned more about team offense and defense."

Howard will get to test his newfound knowledge very soon. He expects to be cleared for full contact hoops on Thursday, opening day of the full NCAA Tournament. While he's catching tournament games along with everyone else, he has his eyes set on another big travel season with Takeover.

Interestingly, and perhaps contrary to assumption, his recruitment didn't halt after the injury. Quite the opposite.

"Some schools took advantage of the time while I was out," Howard said. "Rather than pull (my recruitment) back, I actually picked it up."

He embarked on unofficial visits to Syracuse and Ohio State last fall, followed by an unofficial to Georgetown in January. He said he doesn't have any favorites and claims offers from those three programs along with Miami, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, Villanova, Florida, USF, N.C. State, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia and others.

Clearly, out of sight did not amount to out of mind. Howard will be one of our top evaluation priorities in the spring and continuing into the summer, when he'll have had a chance to shake off any rust and enhance an already sizeable reputation.

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