Monday, November 20, 2017

Slimmer and a lethal scorer, Myles Powell making a name for himself at Seton Hall

Down 45 pounds since his arrival on campus, Myles Powell continues to grow into his new frame and new role as starting shooting guard at Seton Hall. (Photo by Wendell Cruz/SHUHoops.com)

One year and 45 pounds ago, the massive hype surrounding Myles Powell was officially introduced to the public as Seton Hall prepared to begin its Big East Conference championship defense.

"We knew we were getting a very talented player," head coach Kevin Willard said in his press conference at the Pirates' annual preseason media day.

The scoring prowess of Powell, a highly touted prep star in the Garden State at Trenton Catholic High School, had been documented even before the 6-foot-2 guard had inked his letter of intent signifying the taking of his talents to South Orange. But with the insatiable ability to produce points on the scoreboard came an equally ravenous appetite, one that contributed to the nickname "Cheese" and to tipping the scales at 240 pounds by the time he set foot on Seton Hall's campus for the first time.

Since then, however, he has undergone both a physical transformation both on and off the court, now weighing in at a svelte 195 pounds and building off an impressive freshman season that saw him average nearly 11 points per game as a reserve while the Pirates reached their second consecutive NCAA Tournament. And while it may be easy to say one will go on a diet, it is a completely different story to actually adhere to it, which Powell has.

"Hard work always pays off," the sophomore said after Seton Hall's defeat of Monmouth on November 12, one in which his 18 points were largely vital to the Pirates overcoming a valiant effort from their in-state rivals. "Last year, I was still battling with my weight, still trying to figure it out. Now I feel like I've got it under control and I can move the way I want to move on the court. My conditioning is up, my wind is up, and now I can play at a high level on both ends of the floor."

A commitment to renewed focus on improving his already rich skill set, and also to salads instead of sandwiches, has yielded noticeable results. In four games this season, Powell has scored 10 or more points in each of those contests, with his 13 points per game over two points higher than his season average of a year ago. His defense, which at times was a question mark as a rookie, has also taken on a life of its own, growing in lockstep with the emphasis that Willard has placed on that side of the basketball as Seton Hall carries a Top 25 ranking through the month of November.

"He's unbelievable," Angel Delgado candidly assessed of Powell and his commitment to staying in shape, a dedication that Willard has called an addiction. "When Myles came here, he weighed more than me. One day, he was 240 and I'm like, 'What? I'm 235!' I still can't get that. He put a lot of work in every single day, getting in the gym with us. He put a lot of work in, and now to me, he's the best shooter in the country, and he's got to keep doing what he's doing right now."

"It's been a big transformation, especially coming out of high school," Khadeen Carrington, his backcourt partner, elaborated. "He dropped all that weight, he did a great job during the year, and he made a big leap from his freshman year to his sophomore year. I think he's doing a great job, and we're going to need him throughout the year."

Powell played through multiple slumps in his freshman season, but retained the votes of confidence cast by Willard and his teammates, taking refuge in the quiet calm of Walsh Gymnasium when he needed an escape.

"Whenever I have bad days or I'm not feeling like myself," he said, "I just go to the gym and shoot."

With that, and his insertion into the starting lineup following the graduation of Madison Jones and shifting of Carrington to the point guard spot, has spurred on an increased role in the offense that Powell has met head-on, to rave reviews and predictions that the best for the future face of the Pirates is truly yet to come.

"He's going to have a night where he has 47 (points), I'm just telling you right now," Willard boldly proclaimed after Seton Hall made short work of Indiana. "I think the biggest difference in us last year to this year is the fact that he's always two shots away from breaking the game open. You just can't leave him."

"He hasn't played nearly as well as he has in practice, and I think once he gets his game legs under him, once he gets in his rhythm, I still think you haven't really seen what we've seen so far."

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