The 2012 Live In AC event featured a host of regional prospects worthy of consideration, and Franklin Howard proved among its top standouts. A 6-5 (now 6-6) swingman headed into his sophomore season, Howard already possessed a strong array of scoring tools.
Developed within the Team Takeover program, Howard became a more featured attraction over the next year. He attracted early scholarship offers from Ohio State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Seton Hall, Villanova and Georgetown, with Syracuse and others also showing interest.
He attended the 2013 Elite 100 Camp and showcased true blue-chip talent. He tore his ACL that September, however, ending his 2013-14 campaign and setting back his development for nearly a year.
But his recruitment never missed a beat. Howard narrowed his list last winter to Maryland, Ohio State, N.C. State, Virginia, Georgetown and Syracuse. He pledged to the Orange this past April while still a few months away from returning to the court.
Finally, in July, I was able to watch Howard when he took the court at the Lawson/Oladipo camp. He then traveled with Takeover as they attempted to triumph at the Peach Jam. Although his squad came up short, Howard reestablished himself as a top-75 talent and is set for a big senior season.
Howard is a very fluid athlete who does almost everything on the court with grace. He slinks between defenders and excels at taking short strides in traffic to maintain balance and take a high percentage attempt among tall defenders.
At 6-6 and possessing a solid frame, he may project as more of a wing forward for Syracuse but certainly could play guard as well. He’s a gifted handler and creative passer who enjoys several effective options when he catches a pass in transition. He also can lead the break as the opportunity arises.
|Howard will help give SU an option to play at a faster tempo|
Additionally, he wields a nice looking jump shot. I say nice looking because he actually didn’t shoot well for Takeover, but that’s quite possibly a function of his 10-month inactivity due to the injury. He certainly had his moments and generally shot the ball better — from the middle areas, in addition to threes — at Lawson/Oladipo.
Howard also clearly became more confident as the summer progressed. He averaged just five points per game in nine regular season contests with Takeover, but he raised his average to 14 points per outing at the Peach Jam. He shot 55 percent from the floor — outstanding for a wing — and generally looked aggressive and confident.
Defensively, he possesses the length and quickness to excel in Syracuse’s zone. His potential on that end of the floor intrigued the coaching staff right away, and who knows how far he could develop once he becomes fully healthy, weight-trained and acclimated to college coaching.
While I maintain faith in Howard’s jump shot, there’s obviously no guarantee that he becomes a shooter. More than the threes, his 52 percent free throw shooting in EYBL stands as a cause for concern. Granted, he didn’t get there often — a problem that should subside as he regains belief in his knee — but it’s still worth noting.
He also shows a tendency to drive right, rather than left, and adding more balance as a slasher will be highly beneficial. His body control also is good, not great, which is why his short steps in traffic are so vital to his game.
All in all, looking at Howard ranked No. 70 in the Class of 2015, I wonder if he may be under-ranked. Our challenge was that we didn’t get to watch him fully healthy, yet despite that he mostly played impressively — and he got better over the course of the summer.
If he’s able to build on that momentum and hit a higher percentage of his perimeter shots and free throws, don’t be surprised if he gets a bump upward in our final rankings.
Far more importantly, and keeping in mind that Syracuse sometimes develops players more methodically than some other programs, Howard should step in a play right away. Once he fully ripens into a strong, experienced college athlete, he could follow in that line of SU performers who outpaces expectations from high school.
He holds the look of a dangerous collegiate scorer, and from here Howard simply needs to stay healthy and put it all together.