Hometown guard making impact

Matt Howard had a breakout summer during the July evaluation period and coaches are taking notice of the 2013 guard.

Matt Howard entered the July evaluation period with zero scholarship offers.

That was okay for the 2013 guard because he knew that hard work would pay off.

Howard began to count his scholarship offers on his hands, and after a breakout performance in Myrtle Beach, he didn't have enough fingers to go around.

"I had two back-to-back 30-point performances," he said of what made coaches take notice. "I had 33 in one game and 31 the next. I had a couple of good dunks and mad a couple of shots. They also saw my passing ability."

Of the schools that offered were South Carolina, Virginia Tech, VCU, Richmond, William & Mary, Jacksonville, Bucknell, Mercer, UNC Wilmington, Harvard and Georgia Southern.

Howard claims to not have any favorites, but there are three schools that he's putting a little bit more focus into.

"I don't have a top three, but (South Carolina, Virginia Tech and VCU) stick out to me.

Other schools that have shown interest are Clemson and Georgia. Clemson was the first school to really recruit Howard, and that really caught his attention.

Though, they might've been surpassed in the race for the A.C. Flora (Columbia, S.C.) guard, an offer may remedy that. As for Georgia, Howard has noticed them as well.

"I haven't talked to the Georgia coach yet, but I see them at a lot of my games," he said. "I try not to pay attention (to the coaches). I just try to just regular and not do too much."

However, the hometown Gamecocks will get another leg up as well on their in-state rivals, as they host Howard and his family next week for his first visit.

"I go on a visit to USC on Aug. 17," he said. "I'm trying to get up to VCU and Va. Tech sometime, too."

All of this is gratifying for Howard, as he knows all his efforts are starting to pay dividends.

"It feels good to know that my hard work is paying off," the 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard said. "I put on (20 pounds) since the beginning of the year. I work hard in the weight room. (Strength) coach Micah Kurtz has pushed me (in the weight room). He's just always motivating you. He just pushes you to work harder."

His dad is pleased with the work and wouldn't mind if his son stayed close to home.

He's not the only one that wants Howard to stick around.

"A lot of people are saying that I should stay home so they can come watch me play," he said.

So at the end of this, how does Howard feel about actually having an offer from South Carolina?

"It means a lot," he said. "Growing up, watching USC, and to finally know that they are recruiting me is special. Growing up a fan, it's just an honor."

A Clemson offer would be special as well, but the Tigers haven't offered yet.

"I really like the school, but they just haven't offered yet," he said. "So I don't know.

"My mom always says, 'you have time to think about it, so don't rush into things.'"

As a whole, South Carolina is known as a football state, and even though Howard loves playing on the hardwood, he too, grew up cheering for the Gamecocks on the gridiron and playing a little receiver.

"My mom won't let me play football anymore," he said. "I was actually pretty good at football, but she wouldn't let me play this year now that I have all these offers.

"I'm just trying to win this year and stay healthy (in basketball). I sprained my ankle in the preseason, and it just never fully healed." Howard, who sports a 3.6 GPA, averaged 16 points in his sophomore season.

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