A 6-8 power forward who took a backseat to departing senior Tracy Smith
in the frontcourt of an underachieving N.C. State team, Richard Howell
could be on the verge of a breakout junior season after losing a significant amount of weight over the summer.
Howell stands out first and foremost with the gaudy rebounding numbers he produced in his first two seasons in the ACC, leading the entire conference on a per-minute basis last year. He ranked as the 3rd best per-minute offensive rebounder
amongst all players in our database and the 8th best
total per-minute rebounder, which will bring plenty of attention his way this year if he can maintain a similar pace with increased playing time this season.
Like most great rebounders, Howell has phenomenal hands which allow him to catch virtually every ball even remotely in his area. While not overly explosive vertically, he has the strength and girth to just move opposing players around in the paint, and shows terrific timing with the way he pursues loose balls coming off the rim.
Offensively, Howell gets most of his touches off the ball, diving to the rim and crashing the offensive glass. Not what you'd call a high flyer, he rarely finishes above the rim, which makes it difficult for him to operate in traffic. It will be interesting to see how his weight loss affects his overall athleticism, because he's not an overly explosive guy as is. He does not possess a very diverse post game either, showing average footwork and struggling to finish with his off-hand.
Howell does show some intriguing flashes of skill-level from the perimeter, both as a jump-shooter and attacking his matchup off the dribble. He only took about one jumper per game last season, but made 48% of his attempts according to Synergy Sports Technology. He shows solid mechanics on his jumper, mostly on flat-footed catch and shoot attempts.
This is a part of his game he showed more ability in as a high school player, so it will be interesting to see if he can expand on this as a junior. It would certainly add to his versatility and overall intrigue.
Howell has a solid skill level in other areas as well. He's capable of putting the ball on floor a bit, typically to make his way to the rim in a straight line. He's is a pretty solid passer as well, seeing the floor a little better than you'd expect considering the position he plays. He seems to have a good understanding for how to get teammates involved.
The biggest question marks revolving around Howell's pro potential might be on the defensive end. He looks heavy and slow-footed stepping out on the perimeter, showing average fundamentals and an intensity level that often leaves something to be desired.
While he seems to possess good timing, and has the bulk to be hold his own in the post, his lack of size and athleticism could be a major hindrance moving forward unless he really works to maximize his ability on this end of the floor. As things stand, he looks most comfortable guarding centers, but at 6-8, he probably won't be able to do that in the NBA.
Despite his shortcomings, players in Howell's mold have often been able to carve out important niches in the NBA, as his rebounding production and budding skill-level are coveted traits in big men. The early returns this offseason sound very positive, as he's reportedly dropped over twenty pounds at the urging of incoming head coach Mark Gottfried. With Lorenzo Brown
, C.J. Leslie
and Howell returning, N.C. State has a good amount of talent still intact to help make the transition to the new staff a lot easier, so it will be interesting to see how things play out.