Rising junior to watch: Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard was a virtual unknown on the national level two weeks ago. Now the Southwest Atlanta Christian (Ga.) forward will certainly be listed among the Top 20 players from the Class of 2004.

The 6-9, 220-pound Howard, who plays with the Atlanta Celtics, displayed a versatile game at the Adidas ABCD Camp that was every bit as good as any underclassman at the venue. While fellow 2004 front-liners Josh Smith and Lamarcus Aldridge may have put up better numbers, it was Howard who arguably had the best all-around camp.

"It feels pretty good to get some recognition, but I haven't really accomplished anything yet," Howard said. "I'm not satisfied. I won't be satisfied until I make the NBA."

Howard is similar to Aldridge in that the pair are both reserved, "yes, sir" and "no, sir" kids. However, Aldridge is more adept at scoring in the paint whereas Howard is more comfortable on the perimeter.

"He's so versatile and is a disciplined shot-blocker," said Southwest Atlanta Christian coach Courtney Brooks. "He can push the ball on the break and makes good decisions. He just needs to get stronger."

While it's clear that the Carolina staff will be keeping a close eye on Howard, the feeling may not be mutual at this point. When asked of his five dream schools, Howard mentioned Georgia Tech, Duke, N.C. State, Florida and Tennessee. He has also spoken about Georgia, Kentucky and Stanford in the past and occasionally mentions North Carolina as an option.

It appears that the Yellow Jackets have the inside track to Howard at this point, but that could all change if the Blue Devils become involved.

What really distinguishes Howard from the other big men is his ability to step out, handle the ball and also see the floor and make quality passes away from the basket. That comes from the fact that he was a point guard until recently, when he sprouted seven inches in the span of less than two years.

"He's very fluid, very quick off the floor," said PrepStars analyst Rob Harrington. "Well proportioned, so it stands to reason that he'll be able to gain weight and not lose athleticism. He runs the floor really well. There have also been times where he's been a really good shot blocker."

Howard averaged 12.5 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 blocks per game as a sophomore after missing most of last summer with a broken left leg suffered when he was pushed attempting a dunk and fell awkwardly.

Howard, who is also a 3.0 student, said his decision on where to attend college will be based heavily on the relationships he makes during the process, rather than about playing time.

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