Juco forward Howard commits to CSU

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Cleveland State received a boost to its frontcourt depth on Thursday, thanks to the commitment of Hutchinson Community College forward Kali Howard. Howard, CSU’s first direct-from-juco recruit of this offseason, brings the Vikings’ 2023-24 roster up to 13 players.

Her Blue Dragons enjoyed an outstanding 2022-23 season, including a 23-8 overall record and a 17-7 Jayhawk Conference mark, good for fourth place. They were also ranked in the NJCAA’s Division I top 25 early in the campaign, peaking at No. 4 following a 6-0 start. Things backtracked a bit through a tough league schedule however, then ended abruptly in the Region VI quarterfinals, where Hutch was upset by rival Coffeyville.

The newest Viking’s role on the squad was that of an all-around hardworking player who can operate off of the wing or play with her back to the basket, a type of athlete that typically does very well at Cleveland State. Though not huge for that assignment – she’s listed at 5-11, and is decidedly out of place against larger post players – Howard was a consistent double-double threat for the Blue Dragons, with 8.9 points and 7.0 rebounds per outing. She actually accomplished the feat six times, including 13 tallies in each category on November 22nd at Pratt, as well as a season-high 14 boards complimenting ten points on January 7th against Seward County.

Though she has decent range, out to about 15 feet, Howard is primarily a very good finisher around the rim and through contact, with a 49.1 percent career field goal mark at Hutch, and she also does a solid job of getting to the line, where she knocked down 67.5 percent of her attempts in 2022-23. On top of that, she generates a healthy number of turnovers for a forward, just under one per game.

Her freshman season wasn’t quite as prolific, as she didn’t become a regular starter with starter’s minutes at Hutch until 2022-23, but Howard still showed a similar profile in the opportunities she was given with 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game for a team that went 29-6 and captured the Region VI championship before falling in the second round of the NJCAA tournament.

She’s originally from Zachary, LA, a town roughly 20 miles north of Baton Rouge (a locale that certainly knows a couple things about good basketball), and was selected to the Louisiana High School Coaches Association All-Star Game while at Zachary High School.

Alongside Howard, CSU’s forward group now boasts Brooklynn Fort-Davis (a similar player, who coincidentally is a graduate transfer from Howard University), as well as Wyoming transfer Grace Ellis, incoming freshman Paulina Hernandez, bruising redshirt sophomore Faith Burch and Horizon League all-freshman team member Jordana Reisma. Destiny Leo leads the backcourt lineup of course, which also includes Sara Guerreiro, Shadiya Thomas, Carmen Villalobos, Colbi Maples, Mickayla Perdue, and recently-added Saint Francis (PA) transfer point guard Filippa Goula.

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