The Howard women’s basketball team came short of capturing their second consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title after a 56-52 loss to No. 1 Norfolk State University in the March 11 tournament game. Amidst defeat however, there were many highlights to celebrate throughout this season, including the recognition of the MEAC Player of the Year: junior guard Destiny Howell.
Howell ended the season averaging 16.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 35.6 percent from 3-point range. She was named the 2022-23 MEAC Player of the Year on March 7. Upon receiving this award, Howell said she was, “really happy my accomplishments were being brought to life.” Her scoring averages and shooting from beyond the arc both led the MEAC. In addition to her ability to frequently score, Howell’s off-court intangibles contributed to her success this season.
“I feel like my mental game has gotten a lot better this year,” Howell said. “That’s what has been able to separate me. I meditate a lot now. I talk to my coaches a lot more before the games, just to try and get my mind ready before the game.”
Howell’s original basketball days stem from growing up in Queens, New York. She attributes her first moments in the sport to playing in a recreational league with her father.
“My dad played in an older rec league when I was about nine,” Howell said. “During halftime, I picked up the ball and started shooting around with the younger boys. All of a sudden, I just couldn’t put the ball down.”
Howell said being from New York helped mold her into the individual she is.
“Being from New York plays a big role,” Howell said. “Not even just basketball but my life in general. People always say New Yorkers had it hard and had to get it out of the mud. New York made me stronger and helped build a lot of character. It definitely helped me be the person I am today.”
Howell compares her game to NBA superstar Kevin Durant, which is understandable considering her ability to consistently score. In terms of being a guard, she said she is more of a pure shooter like Stephen Curry than a facilitator like Chris Paul. But whether she is assisting her teammates or dropping 20 on a given night, Howell made her name known to Howard basketball fans and opposing defenses. Howell’s high school coach JoAnn Wagner can attest to Howell’s work ethic from her varsity days at St. Francis Preparatory School.
“It is absolutely awesome,” Wagner said. “Destiny transferred into our school as a junior and had some major adjusting to do. But she persevered academically and athletically and found a home and success at Howard. Destiny never took anything for granted. She knew she had to work hard to achieve her dreams. These are the success stories that high school coaches hope for all their athletes. I am so proud of Destiny!”
Howell’s determination continued to fuel her breakout season to win the MEAC Player of the Year award. Most recognize her basketball accomplishments, but teammate Kaniyah Harris acknowledges the individual Howell is away from the court.
“Off the court, Destiny is very funny and energetic,” Harris said. “She’s definitely the life of the party. She is also very passionate about her loved ones. From big sister to big sister, I applaud her. Playing when your motivation is so far away is not easy, but she finds a way!”
Even when Howard came up short of repeating as the MEAC Tournament champions, Howell’s 30-point performance was the night’s story. She reflected on the season, saying the Bison will be back ready to compete in 2023.
“I think the season was solid overall,” Howell said. “We faced a lot of adversity between injuries, people being down, and being mentally and physically challenged. One thing we always did was find a way to pull it together and figure it out with the cards we were dealt. I’m proud of this group for what we accomplished this year, even with everyone doubting us. My expectations for next year are to win more non-conference games and win another MEAC championship.”
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman