Heart Over Height: The Evolution of Markquis Nowell


By David Cordova


On a Monday night in June, there was a raucous crowd at the world-famous Rucker Park in Harlem, cheering on a game between Bishop Loughlin High School of the CHSAA as they went up against national powerhouse Roselle Catholic from New Jersey. In this game, there was one player who stood out amongst the crowd, one player who shone the brightest. The young man in question is none other than Markquis Nowell.

Nowell is a point guard that has the heart of a lion, a player who proves himself every time on the court with a passion for dethroning other players that are more heralded than him. “What ,motivates me to be successful in this game is to get out of the neighborhood that I’m in and I want to be the best player in my class.”

The 5-foot-8 Nowell describes his upbringing in Harlem as one of the things that has helped him in his game. “You get your toughness from Harlem, your handle. Playing in the playgrounds so much, you develop your handle and you get your toughness and killer instincts.”

Nowell first started high school at the famed St. Anthony High School across the Hudson River in Jersey City, NJ and made the varsity as a freshman. But due to the fact that the roster was always loaded with Division I talent, he had to sit on the bench and learn from the upperclassmen. “It was a learning experience. I learned a lot of basketball lessons from Coach [Bob] Hurley. I learned that I had a lot of growing up to do and I had lot of stuff I needed to work on.”

The following season would be a revelation of all his hard work as he decided to transfer back home to a New York City school, particularly Bishop Loughlin High School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. “I decided to come to Loughlin because of my relationship with Coach [Ed] Gonzalez and I knew that it would be a great fit for me.”

During his sophomore season, Nowell led the Lions in scoring with 18.2 points a game and had eleven 20-point games this season. His play and the emergence of junior Keith Williams, another Division I recruit, helped lead Loughlin to a 21-8 record, a CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens title and an appearance in the CHSAA in the city championship game, in which they fell to another Brooklyn school, Xaverian.

After the high school season ended, it was time for Nowell to raise his stock on the AAU circuit with none other than the New Jersey Playaz, one of the premier programs in the Northeast, which was run out of Paterson, New Jersey, by Jimmy Salmon since the 1990’s. The program boasted alums such as JR Smith, Vince Carter, Tim Thomas, Kyle Anderson and also New York Giants star Victor Cruz.

When asked about being playing for a prestigious program such as the Playaz, Nowell replied, “It’s like a family over there. It’s a great program, they’ve looked out for me and they always had my back, so I enjoy playing with them.”

This past spring, on the 16 and under level, Nowell has helped the Playaz steamroll through the competition, including winning the Boo Williams Nike Invitational in May, in Hampton, Virginia, which helped them qualify for a berth in the Nike Peach Jam, one of the most prestigious events in the country, which takes place July 6-10 in North Augusta, South Carolina.

Also, as a result of his play during the scholastic season and on the AAU circuit, he has earned college offers from programs such as St. Peter’s, VCU, George Washington, Seton Hall, Fordham, Minnesota, Rutgers, Western Kentucky, Washington and St. Louis.

His athletic success isn’t the only type of crowning achievement that he has fulfiled. He is also an honor-roll student, with a grade-point average above 90%.

Despite the sudden success on the basketball court, Nowell seeks to work harder to accomplish more goals along the way. “I play the game because I love doing it. Not because of coaches, I do it because I love it.”

Nowell also just finished making strong appearances at elite events this month such as the Nike Elite 100 in St. Louis and the prestigious Pangos All-American Camp in Norwalk, California.

As his play continues to improve, there is no doubt that he will attract even more schools. “My goal is to commit to my dream school.” Wherever that school is will be receiving a gem that is truly a floor general.

in that game at Rucker Park, the Lions dominated in the second half with Nowell making great assists and also great moves to the basket, as well as key jumpers. In the last few seconds of the game, with Loughlin already up by seventeen, he held the ball with one last opportunity to make a statement. He took a shot from from the three-point line that miraculously hit nothing but net. The game belonged to Loughlin, but the night was truly his. This was the night that all of Harlem knew his name.

Highlights of Markquis Nowell:

Courtesy of Primetime Hoops

Courtesy of NJ Hoop Recruit

Courtesy of Primetime Hoops

One thought on “Heart Over Height: The Evolution of Markquis Nowell

  1. Great story Dave’ Marquis Nowell is an inspiring young man with God on his side’ and come from a loving family and is surrounded with nothing but love. May God continue to guide his steps 🏀


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