ENTERPRISE – Dallas Howell is a match-up nightmare to those trying to guard him.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pound junior from Enterprise High can step back on the perimeter and drain the three, yet is just as comfortable posting up and taking it strong to the basket.
“He’s a match-up problem for guards, and he’s a match-up problem for the post, too, because he can put it on the floor and kind of go by the bigger guys,” Enterprise coach Rhett Harrelson said.
Howell is even counted on to push the ball up the court at times.
“It’s really convenient when you have a guy who’s able to guard every position on the floor and play every position on the floor,” Harrelson said. “Last year, he was playing a lot of our five – our center position. He was playing primarily down low. This year, he’s really doing it all for us.”
Howell has averaged 15 points, eight rebounds and two assists per game in helping the Class 7A Wildcats to a 21-7 record. Playing mostly on the wing, he’s knocked down 57 3-pointers and has had 12 double-doubles (scoring/rebounding in double digits).
“Over the summer in between eighth and ninth grade, and then my ninth grade year on, that’s really all I focused on was perfecting my shot form and changing it from what it was,” Howell said of the shooting success. “The big thing is staying ready to shoot – staying down in the stance so when I catch it, it’s a quick release.”
He had early guidance from his father, Hunter Howell, and mother, Karla Huguley Howell, who were both standout basketball players during their prep days at Geneva High School.
“My dad showed me what I needed to work on and then I would get outside and work on it,” Howell said. “I’ve got a goal outside my house that I have lots of shots on. It’s like an escape for me. When school starts stressing me out, I’ll just go out there and shoot.”
As impressive as the offensive numbers have been, what Howell believes sets him apart is the work he puts in on the defensive end.
“Playing defense is where I wanted to make my stand on the team,” Howell said. “Since everybody else focuses on scoring so much, if I focus on defense and stopping people from scoring, it will really make me stand out and give me a better chance.”
His play on both ends of the court went up a level after a strong summer season playing for Team Carroll Premier, a travel team based in Alabama that competes in regional and national tournaments.
“You walk in the gym and there is No. 1 through No. 5-ranked players playing against each other on one court,” Howell said of the summer competition. “It just opened my eyes to how much I need to improve.”
Howell also came away knowing he could line up and compete with some of the most talented high school players in the country.
“We played the No. 1 team in the nation in California in the second game (of a tournament) and we ended up beating them by 2 and I led the team in scoring and rebounding,” Howell said. “That really boosted my confidence.”
His play has also opened up plenty of eyes on the college level.
Troy University offered him a scholarship this past summer.
“I was on the way home (from practice in Birmingham) and my parents called me and told me I needed to stop by Troy,” Howell said. “So I stopped by there, and that’s when they told me they were offering me. It was a nice surprise.”
Harrelson said Jacksonville State, Samford and Saint Louis have also offered and schools such as Michigan, Iowa State and Auburn are now showing interest.
“He’s way more recruited than I ever was,” said Harrelson, who holds the Enterprise High School record for career points with 2,322, which ranks 25th in AHSAA history. “If he has any questions, I’m here for him. If I can help out any way, I’m here for him, but I want it to be up to him. That’s the way I went through it.
“I talked to my coaches, but at the end of the day, it was up to my family and myself.”
Howell went on an unofficial visit to Auburn two weeks ago for the Kentucky game and met former Tiger and NBA star Charles Barkley.
“It was awesome,” Howell said of visiting Auburn. “Just thinking that playing basketball gave me that experience of meeting a legend and the atmosphere of that school with all the fans there was amazing.”
There is still plenty of time for college decisions. Howell is focused on finishing out this season and then playing again on the summer circuit before his senior year rolls around.
“I believe my ball handling needs to improve,” Howell said. “I’ve been getting a lot better with it, but it still has a higher level to get to.”
Harrelson knows Howell will put the work in and has the desire to continue his progression.
“There have been times this season I’ve seen a look in his eyes that’s a complete refusal to lose,” Harrelson said. “He wants the ball in his hands, but also he’s one of the favorite guys in the locker room. Everybody loves him and I think that’s because of the kind of person he is.
“How hard he plays in a game is awesome, but he brings that in practice every single day, too. He brings that in the weight room every single day. He handles his business in the classroom. He’s really grown and matured on his game and just as a person in handling business.”
Working to improve his skills in the gym – or at his home on the outside goal – is a labor of love for Howell. It’s on the court he feels most comfortable.
“Whenever I’m not dressed out, like when I’m in school clothes and sitting there waiting to play, I’m always jittery,” Howell said. “But as soon as I put that uniform on and look at the court, all of that goes away.”