NEWARK – There’s a new Myles in town, but the old one, Myles Powell, is just getting started.
The sophomore two-guard from Trenton averaged 10.7 ppg and just over two made threes per game during his debut campaign.
For just about any freshman, that’s pretty darn good.
But for Myles Powell, who notably shed dozens of pounds during his transition from high school, it seems like he is just scratching the surface and today’s game-high 18 points (4-9 3pt) was a reminder of his untapped talent.
“I don’t think everyone has seen just how good he’s going to be just yet,” said Kevin Willard after his team’s 75-65 win over Monmouth.
“He hasn’t played nearly as well as he has in practice. I can see him on any given night getting 20, 25 just due to the way he’s shooting, the range he’s shooting [from] … Once he gets in a rhythm, I don’t think you’ve really seen what I’ve seen thus far.”
In addition to some smothering press defense that was very similar to Friday night’s win over Fairleigh Dickinson, Seton Hall benefited from a 13-point first half salvo from Powell that spearheaded a 33-point onslaught over the final ten minutes, giving the Pirates a commanding 48-32 halftime lead that guided them to the finish line comfortably.
“He kept whispering in my ear ‘Keep shooting, keep shooting, keep shooting’”, said Powell after the game, gesturing toward Khadeen Carrington who was seated next to him.
“When my starting point guard has that much confidence in me, I’m going to keep shooting.”
And shoot he did, nailing a trio of three-pointers before the break.
“The great thing about our team, we don’t really know whose night it’s going to be. From one-through-five it can be anybody’s night. It was my night tonight and my teammates found me.”
Now in the best shape of his life, Willard limited Powell’s minutes last season due to lingering issues from a broken foot that he sustained as a senior, but Powell was also battling other ailments stemming from his aforementioned rapid weight loss.
“It definitely helps a lot,” said Powell of improving his body. “Last year I was still battling my weight. I couldn’t get it under control. I was cramping, my knee was hurting, different stuff. This year the goal is to keep it under two [hundred pounds].”
Currently fluctuating between 190-195 pounds, an incredibly leaner Powell went into more depth about what he has done to help himself.
“I just stay in the gym. When I’m having bad games, when I’m not feeling like myself, I go to the gym and do what I love and that’s shoot. Either I’m working out or just staying on the treadmill. I like to play both ends of the floor now, my defense is up, I feel like I can play at a high level on both ends of the floor.”
Nicknamed ‘Cheese’ for his chaotic and unhealthy diet prior to college, Powell is making the little sacrifices that result in large gains.
“I just try to stay away from carbs. Bread, stuff like that. If I’m having a chicken sandwich I take the bun off and just eat the sandwich. Monday through Friday I try to stick to salads.”
Powell’s progress has not gone unnoticed by Monmouth boss King Rice, who made it clear that he keeps close tabs on local programs, especially Seton Hall.
“Myles is good, I was impressed with him last year when he changed his body,” said King.
“When a kid is dedicated like that… Everybody always knew what he could do, but now you look at him and he could probably do a calendar or something [laughs]. You should have a Seton Hall calendar, he might have a second career.”
When Kevin Willard was asked about Rice’s comment on his starting shooting guard, he joked.
“I think if King saw our locker room, he’d change that very quickly.”
And then gave the Trenton native — who has green pastures ahead of him in South Orange — a sincere endorsement.
“Myles has become addicted to being in shape. He loves the way he looks, more importantly he understands how well he’s playing is directly from the hard work he’s putting into his body. Once you get that and you see great results, you don’t want to lose that. He won’t eat that much at team meals anymore, he won’t have the seventh cookie like he had before.
“It’s to his credit, it was his willpower, it was his wanting to change, it has nothing to do with anything besides that young man wanting to be the best he can be.”
And apparently we’re far from seeing Myles’ ceiling.