Markquis Nowell takes over college basketball, embodying ‘heart over height’

Senior guard Markquis Nowell celebrates the victory over the Oklahoma Sooners on senior night. Nowell recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists in his final game in Bramlage Coliseum. (Archive photo by Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

During March Madness, Markquis Nowell, also known as “Mr.NewYorkCityy,” secured his place in college basketball history. The 5-foot-8 point guard from Harlem, New York, achieved a remarkable list of accomplishments during his game time in his hometown arena, Madison Square Garden, which is recognized as the “Mecca of Basketball.”

Nowell set the NCAA Tournament single-game record with 19 assists in the Sweet 16. In the Elite Eight, he further dominated by becoming the fourth player with 30 points and 10 assists in an NCAA Tournament game since 1984. 

A quick look at the guard’s Twitter profile reveals that his historic March performance should not have come as a surprise. His banner reads, “Underestimate me so I can embarrass you,” and his bio reads, “Always believed that one day I would be big. I had my own faith.” 

Nowell’s confidence is representative of the Wildcats’ “crazy faith” that led them from last pick in the Big 12 to one of the final eight teams in March Madness. 

“We have great belief in each other that when everybody says we can’t do it, we just keep believing in ourselves,” head coach Jerome Tang said after the Sweet 16 victory. “Early on, people were calling it crazy. … We call it crazy faith.”

Another thing you’ll notice on Nowell’s profile is his pinned tweet — the phrase Nowell sent into households across the nation, “Heart over height.” 

“When I knew I wasn’t going to grow anymore, I tried to use that to my advantage,” Nowell said in an interview with Barstool Sports’ Rico Bosco. “I knew that as a smaller guard, you have to have a high basketball IQ, you have to be a leader. … I try to use my heart, my leadership and my IQ to my advantage.”

Playing the game his way, Nowell took the basketball landscape by storm with recognition from some of the NBA’s greatest point guards in Trae Young, Muggsy Bogues and Isaiah Thomas.

Nowell’s highlights were abundant during the postseason, including a crucial lob dunk to Keyontae Johnson leading to Wildcats’ Sweet 16 victory.

“He’s our starting point guard. His IQ, his feel for the game — he brings everybody confidence,” Johnson said.

Just moments before the alley-oop, Nowell had looked into the crowd saying, “Watch this.” Earlier in the game he ran down the court saying, “This is my city!”

Teammate Ismael Massoud confirmed after the game, saying, “Yeah it is, yeah it is, yeah it is.”

Nowell’s confidence is off the charts, but he has the playmaking ability on the court to back it up. 

“He’s the best point guard in America,” teammate Desi Sills said according to The Athletic. “Heart of a lion, heart over height … he’s our leader, he’s going to keep doing it.”

Despite the love from teammates, fans and legends of the game, Nowell refuses to take all of the credit.

“I just wanted to do it for my teammates, man,” Nowell said. “I just love being out there with these guys.” 

Kansas State’s season and Nowell’s time as a Wildcat ended with an Elite Eight defeat, but the impact Mr. New York City has created will live on forever in the Little Apple and Big Apple alike. Nowell’s record-breaking performances truly embodied what it means to have heart over height.