Orlando Magic NBA Draft Preview: The dark horse prospects to watch

Tyrese Maxey of the Kentucky Wildcats is a promising point guard with lots of work to do. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey of the Kentucky Wildcats is a promising point guard with lots of work to do. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /
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Markus Howard, Marquette Golden Eagles
Markus Howard’s prodigious scoring for Marquette makes him a NCAA legend. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Markus Howard, Marquette

Inevitably every year, there is a player who just clicks in college. He puts up prodigious statistics and becomes something of a legend among the college cohort. But NBA scouts just are not sure.

There are still peculiarities about the college game — the pace being first and foremost and the ability to play straight zones without worrying about defensive three-second violations — that make some players work in college and not in the pros.

There is a long list of players who were prolific college scorers that just never got a real look at the NBA for various reasons — think about former Orlando Magic draft pick Tyler Harvey, who led the nation in scoring before the Magic took him.

For every Stephen Curry who sheds the small-school, big-scorer doubts there is a Jimmer Fredette, Justin Wright-Forman, Marcus Keane or Kay Felder who never really found a way to translate that scoring to the next level. Most of the time these players find themselves playing off the ball and unable to make that transition.

Still, the Magic are a team that has struggled to score most of the year and they should be looking for guys who can create a basket wherever they can find them.

So they have to at least study leading scorer Markus Howard of the Marquette Golden Eagles.

Howard averaged 27.8 points per game last year for Marquette on an impressive 52.6-percent effective field goal percentage with 19.3 field goal attempts per game. He has averaged more than 20 points per game in three consecutive seasons and shot better than 40 percent in each of his four seasons in college.

It would be one thing to do this in the Big Sky or Northeast Conference. He was doing this in the Big East. Maybe not consistently the strongest conference but still no pushover.

Howard has some prolific scoring games. His season-high this year was 51 points against the USC Trojans. There are only 16 games where a player scored 15 points since the 2011 season. Howard has two of them.

There is no ignoring that kind of scoring ability. He can work his way off the dribble into his shot. He can run off screens to get his shot off.

So why is he not high on any draft boards? Howard is No. 67 over and No. 21 among point guards in ESPN.com’s rankings. He is No. 41 in NBADraft.net’s top-100 big board.

Howard is 5-foot-11 and is not a strong point guard option. He averaged only 3.3 assists per game last year — and 3.9 the year before. He is not a particularly long player and did not operate off the ball much. He posted a 39.3-percent usage rate.

Marquette was absolutely right to give him the ball and let him try to score. It generated a ton of success for that team. There is no denying that had some success.

Will it translate to the NBA? That is probably not the case. And Howard, despite his ability to get buckets, is probably not a player that is on the Magic’s radar or wish list because of his physical attributes.

He just is not a player the Magic usually have an eye for.