King's athlete earns national recognition

J.D. Howlett helps put Blue Devils on the map

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J.D. Howlett is in the top 10 nationally for both points and rebounding (Photo: Sarah Kraus).

Basketball player John David (J.D.) Howlett is using his height to his advantage, earning himself top spot in national rebounding statistics for the second year in a row.

Standing at 6-6, Howlett is the tallest player on the University of King's College Blue Devils team.

Although game programs incorrectly indicate that Howlett is taller, he doesn't need the extra inches to excel in the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association.

In addition to his unparalleled rebounding total - 188 in 16 games, Howlett is also consistently in the top 10 in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association rankings for points.


J.D. Howlett spends hours each week practicing his technique with the new shooting machine (Video: Sarah Kraus).

He is averaging just over 21 points per game and making almost 50 per cent of his shots.

Joining Howlett in the national point rankings is teammate Eamon Morrissy, the Blue Devils' point guard.

Their coach, Chad Wadden, says his players' success "helps put King's on the map, especially from a Nova Scotia standpoint. We produce a lot of great players that are being recognized as some of the best in the country."

King's Athletic Director Neil Hooper, agrees. He speaks highly of Howlett,

"When you get an athlete as exceptional as J.D., it brings all the top level talent and talent seekers. It puts everyone's eyes on your program. He is a marquee player."

Receiving recognition

For his efforts, Hooper and the athletics team at King's named Howlett the Male Athlete of the Year in 2011. He is also eligible to win the award again this year.

Howlett's talent has been noticed outside the King's community, too. Last year he was selected for the CCAA All-Canadian team, an all-star lineup of exceptional basketball players from across the country.

He also recently earned Athlete of the Week honours from the ACAA for the second time in three years.

Despite his slew of accolades, Howlett hasn't grown a large head. He blushes profusely when asked about his chances of winning more awards this season.

Basketball didn't come easily

Howlett will also be the first to tell you he wasn't always a skilled basketball player. Growing up in Prince Edward Island, he played hockey instead.

When he moved back to his hometown in Bedford, N.S., he started playing basketball because that's what his new friends did.

Despite his height, basketball didn't come naturally to Howlett. "I was really bad. It was embarrassing because I was the tallest guy, I was supposed to be the good guy but that just wasn't the case. But I put in a lot of work and eventually got better."

Howlett's work ethic and determination paid dividends when he graduated high school. He was recruited by various colleges and universities in both the United States and Canada.

After deciding that school in the U.S.A. was too expensive and intimidating, and that he wanted to be closer to home, Howlett registered at Acadia.

He didn't see a lot of court-time in his first year, but Howlett still ended up with a silver medal at nationals when the Axemen made it to the finals.

After a thrilling first-year, Howlett struggled in his second year due to a falling out with Acadia's new coach, Steve Baur.

Playing for King's

In his third year, Howlett opted to play for King's instead. He is now wrapping up his third and final season with the Blue Devils.

Coach Wadden says, "over the last three years he's kind of grown to work just as hard and not rely so much on his attributes. It's paid off for him. I couldn't ask for a better player."

Stephen Traynor has played with Howlett for the past two years. He says Howlett " gives the team more confidence because he's very consistent and you can rely on him to do what he does every night."

Traynor doesn't hold any animosity toward his teammate in terms of court-time either, "he's on all the time because he's the best. He's an All-Canadian."

Howlett says that although his varsity career is drawing to a close, he will continue to play in local leagues and maybe try out for the Halifax Rainmen one day.

"Basketball - I love it. I could never give it up," he says.

 

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