When you look at the game of basketball today, it is tough to find many point guards that are under 6’0 at the D-I level, let alone the NBA. Knowing that, it has never stopped Markquis Nowell from chasing his dream, and to this point he has overcome the naysayers.
Nowell can be an inspiration to all of those who have had to battle through adversity, growing up in New York City, where some of the toughest basketball is played, and nothing came easy for him.
“With me being short, I had to find a way to stay on the court and be effective,” Nowell said, “my heart was the biggest thing I could bring to the table each and every night.”
Shane Southwell Believed In Nowell’s Heart
When asked what struggles he’s been through, Markquis didn’t sugarcoat it.
“Man, I struggled a lot.” Nowell said. “People only see the glory, people only see the things you do good, but they don’t understand the backend of how far you’ve come. Just growing up was a struggle, growing up with just me and my brother, no lights, no food, some days were a struggle.”
The Kansas State point guard, who is listed at 5’8, has always had a plethora of doubters.
“Being an undersized point guard is a struggle in itself because not a lot of people believe in you. You got to make people believe in you and show people what you are worth.”
Kansas State is lucky to have such a crafty and gritty player and if it wasn’t for Shane Southwell, former assistant coach and player for the Wildcats, Nowell might not have called Manhattan home. Southwell grew up a couple of blocks away from where Nowell stayed at and told Markquis that he would fit really well here. A Zoom call between Southwell and the Arkansas Little Rock transfer solidified his decision to sign with the Wildcats.
“He got me on a Zoom call, I saw the K-State culture and the things he had been telling me. When I got here, everything was true. That’s what really sold me.” Nowell was very appreciative of everything Shane Southwell did for him, “He’s a very good coach and a very good person. We used to put in a lot of hours together last year. That’s really my dawg.”
Unfortunately, Southwell was not carried over to the new staff but Wildcat’ fans should be confident in the coaching staff Tang put together.
Nowell Ready to Play Under Tang
Although there might have been a lot of turnover with both the coaching staff and players, Nowell says this year will be a special one.
“With the guys that we got this year, it’s pretty amazing to see the bond we already have and the knowledge that we all share. We are trying to learn from each other.”
Markquis is one of just two scholarship players that will have played in the 2022 season returning for K-State, with the other being Ismael Massoud.
The Kansas State fanbase has taken the point guard in with open arms, and Nowell has reciprocated it, traveling around on the Catbacker Tour, which wrapped up with its final stop being Manhattan on June 6th.
“The Catbacker Tour is lit,” Nowell said when asked about his experience. “I’m not even gonna lie. It was nothing but love. It was nothing but joy, happiness, and people just saying how much they appreciate me for staying. That was big because you don’t have loyal fanbases like this, you don’t have passionate fanbases like this throughout college. I think we have one of the best fanbases in the country.”
Kansas State will go into the 2022 season with a brand new look, after hiring Jerome Tang back in March. When asked about what he has learned about Tang and the new coaching staff in the short time they have been together, Markquis didn’t have to think long.
“His mindset,” Nowell responded. “It’s more about how we are going to help each other. Like I said, we are all trying to learn about each other. With Coach Tang, everything he does is about winning and if it doesn’t involve winning, he doesn’t want to be apart of it and I’m the same way. With him (Tang) coming in, he made it known that we are coming to win, we aren’t coming to do anything else. We are coming to elevate and we are coming here to win. Each and every day we have to stack up days of good habits and good things, so, as the year goes on we can have a good year.
“I like a coach who will hold me accountable, one who will give me constructive criticism because you aren’t going to always like what you hear and in order for you to be great, which I’m trying to do, you have to listen to people who have seen or done what you are trying to do. Also, I like a coach who bigs me up and gives me the confidence I need to go out there and perform. I think Coach Tang has all three. He not only holds you accountable, but gives you constructive criticism on your game and even on your health and life. I think we have one of the best coaching staff in the country.”
Markquis Nowell will be the floor general for the ‘Cats this season, a role that he has earned indulging himself in the game of basketball. The senior guard said that the one word he would use to describe his game would be a “Winner”.
“Everywhere I go, everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been winning my whole life,” Nowell said. “Throughout the season, all I’m thinking about is winning and how I can help my team win. I’m not really much of a stats guy, I’m not much of a guy that’s like ‘Yeah I need to go get 30’ in order for me to be happy. If we are winning, then that’s enough because when you win we all win and we all get that recognition.”
“You can see guys like Davion Mitchell who averaged 12 and 5, which I averaged last year but we lost, whereas in Davion’s case, they won a national championship and he got drafted. If you win, they will see you. A winner is what I want to be labeled as.”
Role Models On and Off the Court
As a student of the game, Nowell tries to take pieces from every point guard in the league to add to his game.
“I try to take pieces of Stephen Curry’s shooting and shooting habits. I try to take Kyrie Irving’s craftiness and his finishing ability. I try to take Damian Lillard’s range. I try and take Chris Paul’s knowledge and I.Q.. I look to take Jrue Holiday’s or Marcus Smart’s defense and their tenacity. There is just a bunch of guys that I look at and study on a day-to-day basis. Then I just try and put them all in one, shake them up, and see what I can come up with.”
Markquis Nowell has role models from all different aspects of life.
“In basketball, I would say Stephen Curry because of his humility. He doesn’t wear his accolades on his sleeve, he is still a person, he still respects everybody, and he just does what he loves. Outside of basketball, I look up to people like my brother, Nipsey Hussle, Rick Ross, P-Diddy, and Jay-Z because they’re our moguls who are self-made and where I wanna be.”
Last season Nowell lead the Big 12 in steals, with 2.2 steals per game. He attributes his success to “trying to add different elements to win,” and with the off-season is in full swing, Nowell is constantly trying to perfect his game.
“Defense is always a key part in the game and I feel like there are players who are one-dimensional. I try to be dynamic in many different ways. I would say my grit and my passion for wanting to win so bad is what led me to leading the Big 12 in steals.”
“The thing I feel like I can improve on the most is gathering my troops more so they can have that confidence to go out there and win. For me, I’m able to go out there and perform because that’s what I do, but most people need a shoulder to lean on and I feel like I can better at being that leader that brings everyone together so they can feel comfortable and do what they do. My I.Q., my love and passion for the game are some things I feel like are the strongest parts of my game. My leadership is also something I feel like is the strongest part of my game. I have leadership qualities that most players don’t have and even some coaches don’t have. It’s two-sided to my leadership, I could become a better leader and I am a good leader.”
Big Apple Kid Recruiting for the Little Apple
If you follow @MrNewYorkCitty on Twitter, you’ll see how active Markquis has been trying to bring recruits to the Little Apple.
When asked what is his biggest selling point on Kansas State, Nowell said, “I feel like we don’t have to sell this program. It’s a great program. Whatever I say is really how it is. I’m not trying to sell any dreams, I’m not trying to sell you to come here, but if you come here it is everything that I say it is, we say it is, and the people say it is. I would just say come to K-State, we have the best fans and the best coaching staff in the game. We only focus on the things that matter, which is winning, getting better each and every day, and creating young men to be honorable and respectable in the world.”
NIL’s Impact on Nowell, Kansas State
When reminiscing on his time so far with the Wildcats, Nowell said he has some good memories with one being Kansas State’s win in Bramlage against #19 Texas Tech a season ago, 62-51. That game might’ve slipped the mind of some Wildcat’ fans after fellow guard Nigel Pack announced he would be transferring to Miami.
Nowell spoke a little bit on Pack’s decision saying, “I feel like that was the best decision for him. In his game, it’s a business and you start to notice that in high school. I feel like it’s a great situation for him. I mean, he got $800k in 2 years and most people are not making that. I wish he would’ve stayed, that’s my guy but at the end of the day, he has to do what is best for him and his family.”
When talking about NIL, Markquis said, “I feel like NIL is a good deal for college sports but it can be used in the wrong way. If you use it in the right way I feel like its great. I have two NIL deals, one working with John in the NFT world and the other one I can’t disclose right now. I’m looking for more throughout the season and I feel like the alumni and donors should give back to the kids because you really need it. If you don’t have money growing up in college, which was my case, we could use some money to be more comfortable and play basketball.” It is not a big ask, considering the amount of time and effort they give to the university.
“Heart Ova Height”
Markquis Nowell encompasses the phrase ‘Heart ova Height’, selling shirts with that phrase on the front and a quote on the back, which reads “It is not the size of a man, but the size of his heart that matters.” When asked what advice he would give others trying to overcome adversity, Nowell said, “Don’t quit. No matter what you are going through, you are closer to where you are then where you started and quitting doesn’t make anything easier. Just continue to keep grinding and doing what you are doing. If it wasn’t for rainy days, we wouldn’t know what the sun feels like.”
Nowell will play his last year as a Wildcat’ and hopes to be remembered as “someone who won, someone who gave it his all, who left it all on the line, and an honorable person who will do whatever it takes to win and become a good person.”