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Thursday, July 28, 2011
Matt Howard takes talents to Greece

By Eamonn Brennan

Matt Howard's odds of playing in the NBA were never very high. The former Butler star had a marvelous career -- he was a four-year Horizon League star, a two-time Horizon League tournament MVP, the 2011 Division I Academic All-American of the Year, and the driving force behind Butler's back-to-back appearances in the national title game -- but NBA scouts tend to care less about those accomplishments than about potential, age, athleticism, and so on. Throw in the difficulty of playing your way onto an NBA roster when the NBA is in the midst of a drastic work stoppage, and this is not exactly a surprise to anyone.

Still, it's good to hear Howard -- one of the more humble and impressive players in the sport -- was able to turn his success at the collegiate level into some sort of pro career. Turns out, that career will be in Greece, where Howard signed a contract with club Olympiacos this week.

In fact, I'd argue that a European career might just be Howard's destiny. Was there a more prototypical old school Euro-style American basketball star in the country last season? Howard is not particularly quick or athletic, but he shoots the ball well from the perimeter and uses angles to his advantage against defenders in the post. Throw in that nasty facial hair Howard rocked during the 2010 NCAA tournament, not to mention his admirable lack of concern for things like "style" or "non-saggy socks that look like they've been washed at least once a season," and he almost feels like a throwback to the first wave of quirky Euros that invaded the NBA in the late 1980s and early 1990s. If you saw Howard in a foreign tournament, pivoting in the lane while the wispy 'stache blows free in the wind, you'd have no idea the dude was American, right? It's a perfect fit.