The Wolfpacker

January 2013

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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N By Jacey Zembal C State senior center Richard Howell has a burning desire to make this a memorable last season. He will be the first member of his family to earn his college degree when he picks up his diploma in social work in December, and he wants to duplicate the great memories of last season's run to the Sweet 16. Howell has overcome adversity in his hoops and academic careers, and now is focused on having a strong finish. "This is it and my only chance to come out and get an NCAA championship or an ACC championship for me," Howell said. "Every game, I have to lay it on the line, not just for myself, but for my daughter and teammates. I'm excited to see what else I have in store." Howell's daughter, Milani Howell, has been a driving force for him the last few years. "She is the only thing that motivates me right now," Howell said of his daughter, who lives in Atlanta. "I know I have to succeed for her to eat, be OK and I don't want her to go to through things I went through as a kid. I don't want her to experience the tough times I did. I just want her to have everything OK, and that's what I'm working for." Howell is averaging 14.4 points and 8.4 rebounds through eight games this season, and he ranked fifth in the country in field goal percentage (68.1). A strong senior season coupled with his degree is making for a happy ending for Howell. "Getting my degree is huge, especially for a person like me who didn't think too much about college," Howell said. "Nobody in my family has graduated from college before. I never had the vision of graduating." Howell has had his share of ups and downs, both on the court and with his weight over the years. He's emerged from it a better player and person. "It's been a struggling process where I've grown up in poverty and things like that," Howell said. "I don't want to get too much into that, but it all kinds of relates back to that. To be in this position is a blessing." He admits he's a different person than the one who arrived in Raleigh. "I'm a lot more talkative and try to joke around a lot," Howell said. "I'm not as sheltered as I was. I'm not in my own box as much. I converse more out in the open. I remember in high school and even my freshman year [at NC State], I didn't talk to a lot of people. It was hard for me to trust a lot of people. I'm learning to talk to people." Howell is also trying to take on a more active leadership role on the Wolfpack. He mentioned how he approached head coach Mark Gottfried following the disappointing 76-56 loss to Oklahoma State in Puerto Rico Nov. 18 and apologized. "I feel like we do need a leader and I am that person," Howell said. "I'm starting to build a leadership role. I talked about that with coach and built my leadership skills up. It's something we need." Howell responded with 23 points and 15 rebounds the next game — one of his 17 career double-doubles — in helping NC State avoid being upset in its 82-80 win against UNC Asheville Nov. 23. Gottfried wants to see more efforts like the UNC Asheville contest and second half against UConn when Howell exploded for "I'm 22 now, and I've known him since I was 10," Brown said. "We're kind of like family now after knowing him for so long. We see eye to eye on mostly everything. "I'm proud of him and he's been working hard. I hope he can continue to do the same thing." Brown and Howell are always talking about how they can make the Wolfpack better and also achieve their own dreams of playing professional basketball. "Our friendship and trust, he's like my brother because he has my back and I have his back," said Howell. Some might think Howell is serious on and off the court due to his mostly stoic body language on the court, but that's not entirely the case. "A lot of people just see Richard as the The Will To Win Senior Center Richard Howell Has Grown Into A Leadership Role 13 points and 10 rebounds in a 69-65 win Dec. 4. "Richard is emerging right now that is someone who wants to win bad," Gottfried said. "You can see it. That is what leaders have." Howell's teammates seem to respond well when he breaks out his serious side. "We know how much he wants to win, and we want to win just as much as he does," said longtime friend and teammate Lorenzo Brown, a junior point guard. "The first time I've seen him step up was against UNC Asheville, and he's been doing it a lot lately." Howell grew up in in Brooklyn, N.Y., and moved to the Atlanta area when he was 10 years old. He also spent time in Henderson, N.C., which is where his mother currently resides. "She's been my everything," Howell said. Howell met Brown through AAU basketball, and the two have been friends ever since. Also, Howell attended Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler High and battled against Brown and Roswell (Ga.) Centennial High his last two years there. The two know each other's moods and tendencies inside and out. guy with the beard, and looking mad all the time," Brown said. "He's probably the goofiest guy on the team." One thing Howell did get serious about is his fitness. He had gradually put on weight his first two years at NC State and had hit the 270-pound range. Gottfried and strength and conditioning coach Bob Alejo played a big part in reviving Howell's basketball game. The post player lost at least 20 pounds, and his performance on the court reflected it. He averaged 10.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last season, and just as importantly played 27 minutes a contest for the 24-13 Wolfpack. "His sophomore year, he did better, but now he's unbelievable," Brown said. "He's lost that weight and Coach Gottfried put a lot of pressure on him to lose that weight, and he did it. He fought it out and got it done." Now he's looking to help the Pack accomplish its goals in his final season. ■ Howell posted averages of 14.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game during NC State's 6-2 start, highlighted by a 23-point, 15-rebound effort in an 82-80 win against UNC Asheville Nov. 23. photo by ken martin 40  ■  the wolfpacker 40-41.Richard Howell.indd 40 12/11/12 1:25 PM

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