Markquis Nowell, Your Classic Top Point Guard – Tough, Flair, And From Harlem

March 26, 2023

Markquis Morris Nowell, born December 25, 1999, is a Harlem college basketball player for the Kansas State Wildcats of the Big 12 Conference.

He previously played for the Little Rock Trojans. He owns the Division I NCAA Tournament single-game assists record, with 19 vs. Michigan State in the 2023 Sweet Sixteen.

Sports Illustrated writes, a Harlem native, Nowell grew up playing on famous courts in Rucker Park and Dyckman Park, wowing fans with deep shooting range, no-look passes and a tight handle.

High school career

Nowell began his high school career at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, NJ, under Hall Of Fame Coach Bob Hurley Sr. After receiving minimum playing time after his freshman year he decided to transfer schools to Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School for his sophomore and junior year, playing alongside Julian and Justin Champagnie.

Nowell averaged 19.9 points and 8.1 assists per game as a junior. He transferred to The Patrick School for his senior season and averaged 10.9 points per game despite missing a month with injuries. He received no Division 1 offers out of high school before getting a look from Little Rock.

“I just learned the grittiness, the flashiness,” Nowell says. “When I throw passes, I feel like I’m in Rucker or Dyckman Park. Every arena I’m in, it feels like a playground to me.”

But early recruiting interest from D-I programs faded away, and Nowell finished an injury-plagued senior season at The Patrick School in New Jersey with no committable offers. Eventually, he got one from Little Rock assistant coach Alfred Jordan (a Harlem native himself), so New York City’s quintessential floor general moved the nearly 1,300 miles to central Arkansas to take his D-I opportunity.

Nowell had also fallen in love with his new home, even though no one would confuse this Manhattan for the streets of Harlem. He embraced what he called a “family atmosphere” that welcomed him to K-State with open arms. And as one of two scholarship players on the roster when Tang got the job, Nowell had a big role in helping pitch recruits on why they should join the Kansas State family. Tang would bring Nowell and Ismael Massoud to dinners with visiting prospects to try to seal the deal.

KC State Sports reports Nowell is now reunited with Massoud, a native of East Harlem, New York. They played on the same team in a couple of tournaments at Rucker Park and Dyckman and already carry on-court chemistry.

College career

As a freshman, Nowell averaged 11.1 points, 4.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. He averaged 17.2 points, 4.9 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Nowell was named to the First Team All-Sun Belt. He was suspended for two games in January 2020 due to disciplinary reasons. As a junior, Nowell averaged 14.3 points, 6.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game but opted out of the season in February 2020. Following the season, he transferred to Kansas State.

Nowell averaged 12.4 points and team-highs of 5.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game in the 2021–22 season. He was one of two players to return to Kansas State after Jerome Tang was hired as coach to replace Bruce Weber. On January 10, 2023, Nowell was named Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association after scoring a career-high 36 points to go with nine assists and three steals in a 116–103 win against Texas. 

He was named to the First Team All-Big 12 as well as the All-Defensive Team. During the NCAA tournament, Nowell scored 17 points and recorded a then career-high 14 assists during a 77–65 first-round win over Montana State.

On March 19, Nowell scored 27 points and dished out 9 assists in a Second Round win over the Kentucky Wildcats. On March 23, during a Sweet 16 matchup against Michigan State, while playing with a sprained ankle, along with 20 points and 5 steals, Nowell recorded 19 assists in an overtime win, setting a new NCAA Tournament record for a single game. 

On March 25 Nowell scored 30 points and 12 assists in a losing effort against Florida Atlantic in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament.

The story of Harlem‘s Markquis Nowelll is still being written as the Wildcats head into the final four with Kansas State Wildcats ready to take on all comers.

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