Makquis Nowell, a 5’7”, 155 point guard transfer out of the University of Little Rock Arkansas was added to the 2021/2022 basketball roster last week. He will have two years of eligibility remaining, staring next season.
Nowell was one of the best players in the Sun Belt conference during his stay in Little Rock, making the first team All-Sun Belt team in the 2019/2020 season, averaging 17.2 points, 4.9 assists, and 2.2 steals per game for the Trojans, while shooting 39% from beyond the arc (as a high volume shooter) and 88% from the free throw line.
He averaged 14.3 points, 6 assists and 2.3 steals per game before opting out in early February during a tumultuous 2020/2021 season that saw the diminutive point guard out of Harlem residing in UALR coach Darrell Walker’s dog house.
What He Brings To the Table
He crackles with electricity on the court. Every move he makes is sudden and with a purpose. He’s adept at finishing around the rim with either hand, despite his size, because he gets to the rim a step or two quicker than the defender anticipates. His ability to turn the corner on a defender facilitates his nasty step back jumper game which he deploys without hesitation any time a defender attempts to go under a screen to cut off his drive. He has deep range from 3 and can spot up or dribble himself into a shot. He’s a guy that you can clear out a side for, give him the ball, and he’ll create a good shot the vast majority of the time.
On defense, he has quick hands and won’t hesitate to relieve another point guard of the ball if it’s dangled in front of him. He does struggle some with bigger guards and Bruce is going to have to figure out away to keep teams from trying to ISO him to death.
Going back to electricity, it’s awesome when your house is cold in the summer, warm in the winter, and your lights work. It’s not so great when you stick a fork into an outlet, and their is a bit of that in his game. He plays at the verge of out of control, and will occasionally cross over that threshold and venture into out of control. He averaged almost 4 turnovers a game in the last two seasons, and from what I’ve seen, a few of them will make Bruce’s eye twitch and the vein pop out on his forehead.
As I mentioned above, defense could be a problem, especially when paired with Pack. Bruce is going to have to figure out a way to keep the other team from running a high screen, getting the switch they want, and then attacking Nowell in an ISO situation. Teams play with tiny guards all the time, but 5’7”, 155 is about as small as you’re going to find on P5 team. It will be interesting to see how Bruce adjusts the defense when he’s on the floor.
Finally, whatever happened between Nowell and UALR coach Darrell Walker wasn’t great. Coach Walker didn’t sound particularly sad that his star point guard was leaving, and kept repeating the “no player is bigger than the team.” Not sure that’s particularly fair to Nowell, because he was literally their entire offense most games, but it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward. Hopefully Nowell just needs a change of scenery and bigger stage with more talent around him.
The Wildcats were in need of a infusion of talent on offense, and Nowell, for better and occasionally worse, is a shot of adrenaline to the heart. He’s going to get his shots up on the court, and he’s going to get them up both inside and outside the offense. That’s something this team needs, but I wonder how Coach Weber is going to handle Nowell running the point. Nowell won’t, and really can’t, adjust his game. For him to be effective he has to play at 100 miles an hours. His speed of play and quickness is how he compensates for his small stature.
I love the pick up on paper, and Nowell brings something totally different to a Wildcat team that more than occasionally looks painfully slow and plodding on offense. If nothing else, this is going to be fun to watch.