Drayten Howell is officially Bay Area bound.
The former Lompoc High boys basketball standout, who recently completed a two-year stint at Santa Barbara City College, signed his National Letter of Intent to attend Holy Names University in Oakland on Monday night.
The private university located off of Highway 13 plays in the Pac West Conference and goes against NCAA Division II competition.
Howell’s first scholarship offer, coincidentally, came from HNU – and says the Hawks stayed in touch with him the whole way after that offer came on May 21.
“I’m excited to get up there and get to work with the guys and our coaching staff,” Howell tells The Times. “What made me choose HNU were the guys over there and the staff. They were very welcoming and made me feel at home on my visit.”
Howell added that an open gym practice session up there helped seal his decision to commit to the Hawks.
“They encouraged me to take my shots and trusted my decision making while I was running the point,” Howell said. “What more can you ask for? From a staff and teammates who trust your abilities? It is the best feeling.”
Howell is aware that playing NCAA DII ball won’t be an easy task, especially since HNU has a history of filling its preseason plate with Division I programs. Past DI programs that have gone against HNU include California and Chaminade.
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Howell also knows that playing for head coach Omar Sanchez won’t be a breeze. Yet, he says he welcomes the challenge.
“Coach Sanchez kept it real with me throughout the whole process. I know he’s going to be hard on me and I just felt like I needed a coach like that at this point in my life: Someone who’s going to help me unlock my full potential and wants to win. On top of all that we also play a tough schedule so it (choosing HNU) was a no brainer to me,” Howell said.
The 5-foot-11 Howell tallied an average of 12.3 points per game for the Vaqueros last season. He included an average of five assists and 3.8 rebounds per game on the SBCC season stat sheet.
While wearing the LHS blue and white, Howell suited up for both Joe Smith and Eliot Davis – becoming an All-Los Padres League standout for the Braves.
Howell emerged as an energetic scorer and facilitator from his point guard position at SBCC. He plans to bring both elements to the HNU basketball floor next season.
“HNU is getting a good asset out of me,” Howell said. “With my speed and quickness, I’ll be able to drive through lanes and have the defense collapse, allowing my shooters to get open and knock down the jumpers out on the perimeter. I can guard the ball, run the lane and knock down open jumpers as well.
"I want to come in and have guys know that I’m a workhorse, period. I want them to know I’m willing to do anything to win and that I can help lead this team to the conference tournament.”
Howell concludes that he’ll have two seasons of eligibility once he arrives to the Roman Catholic university that sits next to Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park. Howell is enrolling for fall classes on August 17. The former Brave and Vaquero becomes the latest junior college transfer to trek to the East Bay – as last year’s Hawk roster included players from El Camino College in Torrance, American River College in Sacramento and College of the Sequoias in Visalia.