With all the honors and accomplishments of past Purdue head coaches, one area of weakness has been keeping top homegrown nationally-ranked talent home. Among the many successful recruiting efforts that include Stephanie White, Kelly Komara and Katie Gearlds, there have been the near misses, including Shyra Ely and Shanna Zolman. This weekend, Purdue head coach Kristy Curry took a large step in adding that accomplishment to her coaching legacy.
Purdue has received a commitment from the top junior player in the state of Indiana, Jodi Howell of Alexandria. The 5'11 all-around talent who looks to be destined for the shooting guard position in college, made an early commitment following a weekend visit to Purdue, her second visit in less than a month.
Howell has won the IHSAA scoring title for her class every year of her high school career, using a highly polished set of offensive skills. She averages over 40-percent shooting from the perimeter, is becoming automatic from the line, and can shoot just as well coming off a screen as she can stopping on a dime and hitting the jumper on a fast break. Her defensive game is equally advanced. Her pressure on the ball leads to many steals (she had 11 in one game as a freshman), and showed from her Nike Camp performance in 2003 that a sophomore can frustrate one of the nation's top senior scorers.
Howell immediately made a statement in Indiana basketball as a freshman, challenging senior Shanna Zolman and junior Katie Gearlds for the state scoring title. Playing for her father Jon, who has coached four former Indiana All Stars, Jodi assaulted the school record books, breaking school records for points in a game (41), points in a season (646) and free throw percentage (.865). She averaged 25.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 4.2 steal while shooting 39.5 percent from the perimeter.
In 2002-2003, Jodi came within one point of breaking her season scoring record, but accomplished it in three fewer games. Raising her scoring average to 28.0 points per game, Howell kept pace with senior Katie Gearlds to finish as the state's second-best scorer. Playing roles that ranged from power forward to bringing the ball up the court against the press, her shooting from the field increased to 55-percent, and her shooting from the perimeter was an impressive 42-percent. She also led her team with 7.1 rebounds, 4.7 steals and 5.2 assists.
Jodi is the daughter of Jon and Penny Howell. Jon is in his 21st season as head coach of the Alexandria Tigers. Penny was a three-time basketball all-state selection growing up in the state of South Carolina.