UE freshman Howard to redshirt this season

David Howard

UE coach Marty Simmons announced Tuesday that freshman David Howard will sit out this season and redshirt.

“David has an extremely bright future in our program,” Simmons said in a statement.  “He will have the opportunity to practice every day while working in the weight room. He will be a big contributor for us next season.”

Howard, a forward out of Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, battled for playing time at the five spot throughout preseason practices with sophomores Ryan Sawvell and Jaylon Moore as well as freshman Egidijus Mockevicius, a late signee cleared to play in October.

The 6-foot-8 Howard saw limited action in UE’s two exhibitions, playing two minutes against USI and eight against Illinois-Springfield. He scored six points on 3-for-5 shooting Nov. 3 versus the Prarie Stars, grabbed a rebound and blocked a shot.

Howard did not play Saturday at Notre Dame, preserving his right to redshirt and start next season with four years of eligibility.

While a sophomore at Montgomery Bell, Howard’s team went 25-6 and won a state championship. He averaged 17 points and eight rebounds a game during his senior season.

Howard entered UE as part of a signing class that included guard D.J. Balentine, forward Adam Wing and Mockevicius, a 6-foot-10 center.

David Howard talks redshirting:

What factors went into the decision? “It was something me, my coaches and parents have been talking about since before the Notre Dame game. The coaches thought it was something I should think about, and my parents thought it was a great opportunity for me. They both thought it would be great for me to take time to get stronger and get in better shape. They like the idea of going for a fifth year. I agree with them, and I thought the benefits of redshirting would be great.”

What are you trying to work on before next season? “I want to be a great player for this program, and right now I’ve got some weaknesses I need to work on. The biggest weaknesses I feel like are in the physical aspect of the game — strength and agility and conditioning. I feel like if I really take the time these next couple months during the season, in conjunction with practice — I still get to practice and all that — I’ll lift a lot and do agility work all the way up until the start of next season. I feel like I can make a big jump from this year to next year and get closer to becoming that great player I want to be.”

How does this help academically? “That was another factor. Right now I’m still undeclared. I’m taking a class that’s helping me try to decide. All I know right now is that I like math and numbers. My mom’s an accountant. I’m taking an accounting class right now, and I’m enjoying it. I feel like redshirting this year will help give me time to decide.”

Quotable from players, coach Simmons on USI

Coach Marty Simmons on his starting five: “I think that’ll be a work in progress, maybe for the entire year. I said last year a lot of times that we really had six starters – Ned was the sixth man. Now we’ve got enough guys that different combinations could start at any time. A lot of that’s based on performance, attitude and the way they practice. But I think to be successful, we’re going to need depth and for guys to accept roles.”

Simmons on why UE and USI don’t play every year: “One answer would be that we like to see different systems of play as we prepare for the season, because that’s really what the exhibition season does. It gives you a chance to evaluate your guys and learn from video as you prepare for the regular season. I think another thing is, if you did it every year it wouldn’t maybe mean as much. I don’t think there’s any clear-cut answer to that question, but I guess that would be mine as much as anything.”

Sophomore Jordan Jahr on taking a mindset into USI game: “I think really the only thing that’s different is the whole entire community is just really into this game. But other than that, for us, we’re just focusing on ourselves.”

Senior Colt Ryan on buzz about USI around campus: “I don’t know that I’ve heard a lot about it. We’ve been trying to get better in practice day by day, and we feel like we’ve still got a lot to improve upon before Saturday. That’s what we’ve tried to focus on.”

Freshman David Howard on the expected Ford Center atmosphere: “A couple people have said we might be let down at games after this because it’s going to be full. I’m definitely excited to see it.”