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Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Updated: September 29, 1:20 PM ET
Howard's Stock Rising

By Mark Lewis
HoopGurlz

A 6-foot-4 post, Malina Howard began just outside our initial top 25 for the 2012 class. She then jumped to the 21st spot in the expansion to our Super 60 and has now broken into the top 10, landing at the No. 7 spot in our first ESPNU 100 for 2012.

Malina Howard
Malina Howard has continually improved her game and the net result is a spot in the top 10.

On the radar from the beginning, the Twinsburg, Ohio, prospect has followed a steady climb in both her game and her achievements. She's always been a presence inside but has succeeded over time in expanding both production and consistency to evaluate her play among the elite in the class. Add to that a physical maturation that includes additional strength and a new, very impressive level of fitness and you've got an athlete breaking from the recent trend of athletes plateauing in their development.

Twice a participant in trials with USA Basketball, she parlayed her second opportunity into a spot on last summer's U18 team and a gold medal in the 2010 FIBA Americas Championship. That experience carried over into the high-school season as she led her high school squad to its first ever state title in March and recently received an invitation to the USA Basketball U19 trials later this month.

Howard is part of a disciplined, well-coached Sports City U club team known for its commitment to skill development. Continued growth and advancement in her game may not be a given, but based on recent history, it would be a pretty safe bet.

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Mark Lewis is the national recruiting coordinator for ESPN HoopGurlz. Twice ranked as one of the top 25 assistant coaches in the game by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, he has more than 20 years of college coaching experience at Memphis State, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and, most recently, Washington State. He can be reached at mark@hoopgurlz.com.