Howard quietly putting Butler on his back
He was the Horizon League Player of the Year for a team ranked in the top 25 nearly the entire season.
But an invite never arrived to wear the red, white and blue while his two younger Butler teammates represented their country overseas this past summer.
Can't wait for the college hoops season to start? We get you ready for 2009-10 with
Most would be jealous, envious and frustrated when teammate Gordon Hayward came back from New Zealand all decked out in USA Basketball gear.
Not Bulldogs junior big man Matt Howard.
You've got to understand. Howard is a rare breed who doesn't pay attention to perception.
He went against the norm when he chose to play at Butler over Big Ten programs because it fit his game and his personality.
"I'm from IU (Indiana) country," Howard said. "People in my town don't see Indianapolis basketball and in their mind, they thought I was ready to go to the NBA. They were saying, 'Why is this guy going to Butler?'
"I was just glad I was able to see past that. Because I couldn't find a better fit personally."
The league's coaches, despite the unrelenting praise heaped on Hayward since the middle of last season, voted Howard as the Preseason Player of the Year just last week.
Howard, also an academic All-American who sports a 3.7 GPA, couldn't care less.
"Whether he gets the attention or not, he's going to play just as hard," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "Matt's not one to be incentivized by attention. He just goes."
Howard has been the one constant in Butler's rise to prominence nationally. When he committed to former coach Todd Lickliter and Stevens (then an assistant with the program) back in August of 2006, it gave Butler a measure of respect and credibility.
Sure, the Bulldogs were coming off an NIT berth. However, Lickliter & Co. had finished sixth and seventh in the league the previous two seasons.