Contact: Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
(202) 862-9893, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) is pleased to name Markus Howard of Marquette University and Makenzie Mason of the University of Scranton the National Jesuit Basketball Players of the Year. This award honors two student-athletes, one man and one woman, who best display excellence on the basketball court while maintaining core values of Jesuit education: men and women for others who are committed to academic excellence, service, leadership and caring for the whole person.
Howard and Mason were selected by a panel comprised of the five members of the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight (JBS) steering committee. AJCU created the JBS program in 2008 to bring greater awareness of Jesuit education and its shared mission through the more than 80 games played by men’s and women’s basketball teams every season.
A junior guard from Chandler, AZ, Markus Howard averaged 25.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game during the 2018-19 season, and became the first player in 20 years to have two 50+ point games in a single career. He was named the Big East Conference Player of the Year and led the Marquette Golden Eagles to a 5-seed in the 2019 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. Additional honors include being selected for the Consensus Second Team All-America and NABC All-District First Team, District 5.
Howard also made an impact off the basketball court by speaking out on the importance of mental health. In an interview with The New York Times in March, Howard said, “A lot of people in my position wouldn’t want to say anything. It’s a duty of mine, to be in the position I’m in, to be able to raise awareness of these kinds of issues going on in our sport. I would be doing a disservice to the people around me and the people in the same situation as me if I didn’t speak up.”
Upon receiving recognition as National Jesuit Basketball Player of the Year, Howard said, “It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by the JBS and I am thankful and humbled by the award. Playing at a Jesuit institution like Marquette provides a great opportunity for all students to be servants for others and I am appreciative of the role basketball has played in my ability to also have an impact in the community, away from the court.”
A junior forward from Doylestown, PA, Makenzie Mason led the Scranton Lady Royals into the Final Four of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Division III Tournament. During the 2018-19 season, she averaged 14.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. For her accomplishments this season, she was named the Landmark Conference Player of the Year and D3hoops.com Mid-Atlantic Region Player of the Year; she was also selected to the D3hoops.com Second-Team All America.
Mason demonstrated a strong commitment to community service during the 2018-19 season. Along with her fellow teammates, she served as an instructor and counselor for multiple youth camps and basketball clinics in and around Scranton, PA. The University of Scranton’s department of athletics encourages formation through service, offering “a transformative academic and athletic experience preparing mind, body and soul to thrive here and hereafter” (athletics.scranton.edu).
Trevor Woodruff, head women’s basketball coach at Scranton, said, “We are very excited for Makenzie to receive this award. She is a deserving recipient. With major injury problems for our two senior players, we needed Makenzie to step up in their absence. Helping to lead us to a fourth straight Landmark Conference Championship and a Final Four appearance is proof that she more than accomplished that.”
The JBS steering committee had six criteria for National Jesuit Basketball Player of the Year: national honors and recognition for academic and athletic accomplishments; conference honors and recognition for academic and athletic accomplishments; awareness brought to Jesuit higher education; on-court team success; exceptional individual performances; and prior selection as a National Jesuit Player of the Week. To learn more about the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight program, please visit jesuitbasketball.com.