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Howard scoring more for BulldogsPosted Tuesday, January 15, 2008, at 7:16 PM
DUGGER -- Although there would be several candidates for most improved boys basketball player in the area this season, B.J. Howard would have to be right at the top of the list.
Howard, the junior swingman for Union (Dugger), scored 120 points in 22 games during the 2006-07 season. The most points he scored in a game a year ago was 14.
Fast forward through the first 11 games of the 2007-08 campaign and Howard already has 144 points, an average of over 13 points per game. Even a non-math major like me knows that he has more than doubled his scoring average of a year ago.
Twice he has scored at least 21 points in a game, including a career-high 23 points in a 63-41 victory over New Harmony Saturday night. Howard also had 11 rebounds, six steals and four assists in the lopsided victory.
"I have grown about two inches and I am about 10 or 15 pounds heavier," Howard said of a couple of the reasons for his newfound success on the basketball court. "I am now almost 6-1 and weigh about 165.
"I spent more time working on improving my game this year."
Union (Dugger) coach Clarence Johnson said it has been a pleasure to watch Howard, the starting quarterback on the Bulldog football team, develop.
"B.J. has always been a tremendous athlete," said Johnson. "As a freshmen, we actually had to try and slow him down a little bit.
"He has learned how to play within himself more."
Johnson added that Howard has grown as a player and a leader.
"I think one of the reasons he is having such a good year is because of his maturity," said Johnson. "He has really assumed a role of being a leader."
Johnson added that Howard's work ethic also has been crucial in his development on the court.
"B.J. has worked very hard on his shooting and his ball handling," said Johnson, who said that Howard's performance against New Harmony was undoubtedly the best of his career so far.
For his first two-plus seasons at Union (Dugger) as a three-sport standout, including baseball, Howard was known as much for his dreadlocks as much as his athletic ability. But for all of this basketball season and part of the 2007 football season, Howard now dons a more conventional hair cut.
"Dylan Woods and I were in a wreck together back in the fall," said Howard. "He had to shave off his hair because of the accident.
"I felt like I had to shave off my hair too."
Howard, who was donning a wool hat/cap combination before leaving the gym Saturday night, said it took a while to adjust to having less hair, especially during the winter.
"I had my hair that way for three or four years," he said. "I think it was about my seventh grade year when I started wearing my hair like that.
"It is a lot different. It is definitely a little bit colder this time of the year."
Hair or no hair, Howard credits his teammates for his new found success on the court.
"I have to give it to my teammates," he said. "They have done a good job of trying to find me.
"Because of the extra work I have put in, I have more confidence in my offensive game. I feel more comfortable shooting the ball from the perimeter."
Johnson and Bulldog fans hope that Howard's offensive outbursts continue.
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