GREAT FALLS -- Former Great Falls High basketball star Brendan Howard announced his intention to transfer from MSU Billings this week.
“Right now I'm just kind of exploring my options and seeing what's out there,” Howard told MTN Sports. “Nothing's set in stone right now.”
But this isn’t a case of a player seeking more playing time or a different culture. Howard, who transferred to MSUB after a redshirt season at Eastern Washington, loved his time with the YellowJackets.
He was a starter who led the team in scoring as a sophomore, putting up 20.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. His 1,023 career points are 860 short of the MSUB record. Howard was the Great Northwest Athletic Conference's freshman of the year in 2019, and he earned a second-team all-GNAC honor as a sophomore.
“My time here made me a great player and taught me a lot. I mean, the community there was great,” Howard said. “Coach (Mick) Durham was awesome. He expected a lot out of me and out of our team in general, but that's what good coaches do and he has the track record to back it up.”
The move is more one of opportunity. MSU Billings canceled its 2020-21 season and only played two exhibition games. But schoolwork was full speed ahead, and since Howard had stayed on top of academics, he’s on track to graduate with a business degree in May.
He has two years of eligibility left and as a grad transfer can play right away.
“The main thing is I just want to be able to help wherever I go, just compete and win and hopefully try and help them win a championship,” Howard said. “And that's the big thing for me. I know I’ll have to work hard wherever I go, but it’s just trying to compete and graduate with a master's degree.”
Not having a regular season was taxing mentally, it also provided an opportunity. Howard, a two-time Montana Gatorade player of the year, joined his father Bob Howard’s coaching staff at Great Falls High for much of the season. He learned to see the game a different way.
“It was awesome. As a player, I feel like there's things out there that I could have done but as a coach, even at the sophomore level, I can't go out there and physically do that,” Howard said. “Like, I got to rely on those guys. So it's a lot more of a trusting process there. But the team this year made it so easy.”
Brendan Howard's name has been in the transfer portal for less than 24 hours, but he’s already received interest from programs around the country. It almost feels like high school again.
“I would say it's a lot more busier than my high school recruitment was just because it’s much shorter notice and you got to make a little quicker decision,” Howard said. “It's nice, but it's also pretty humbling at the same time.”
He would like to play for an NCAA Division I program but is open to any school if it’s the right fit both athletically and academically.
“It's all pretty new to me right now, so currently I’m pretty wide open,” Howard said. “Obviously the goal is to go Division I but have to look at a lot of things and just see what the best fit is for me.”