Howard, Smallwood, former Elgin High stars, headed to Elgin Sports Hall of Fame

  • Elgin High School graduate Marcus Howard is a 2020 inductee to the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame.

    Elgin High School graduate Marcus Howard is a 2020 inductee to the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame. Daily Herald file photo

  • Elgin High School's Marcus Smallwood, left, discusses strategy with coach Jim Harrington during a 1998 game. Smallwood is 2020 inducted to the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame.

    Elgin High School's Marcus Smallwood, left, discusses strategy with coach Jim Harrington during a 1998 game. Smallwood is 2020 inducted to the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame. Daily Herald File photo

  • Elgin High School graduate Marcus Smallwood, left, played at Northern Illinois after his successful EHS career.

      Elgin High School graduate Marcus Smallwood, left, played at Northern Illinois after his successful EHS career. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin High School graduate Marcus Howard played at Indiana State after his successful EHS career.

    Elgin High School graduate Marcus Howard played at Indiana State after his successful EHS career. COURTESY OF ELGIN SPORTS HALL OF FAME

 
 
Updated 11/2/2020 10:37 AM

They would have made a good law firm.

Or a hip sports talk show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Marcus & Marcus" have been a package deal since high school.

By nature of having the same first name, Marcus Howard and Marcus Smallwood were always kind of lumped together.

It also helped that the two good friends were the same year in school, and were two of the best basketball players in the suburbs, while playing together for one of the best basketball teams in Elgin High School history.

So it seems only fitting that the two Marcuses, linked forever in Elgin basketball history, will be linked forever in sports history in the city of Elgin.

Just like they were chosen for the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame together, the two recently learned that they will be inducted into the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame together.

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"Having the same name, we kind of played into that," Marcus Howard said.

The chemistry of Howard and Smallwood, who graduated from Elgin in 2000 and helped the boys basketball team make a trip downstate in 1998 as sophomores, was undeniable. Howard, a 6-foot-3 guard, and Smallwood, a 6-foot-6 big, made for a tough 1-2 punch for the Maroons, who also boasted one of the best players in the state during their downstate run in guard Sean Harrington, who went on to play at Illinois.

"It's easy to bind two guys that have the same name," Smallwood said. "But Marcus and I were also really good friends, and we still are. Even when we haven't talked in awhile, I can call him up and it's like there's been no time off the clock.

"Sometimes, the universe puts you with someone who just really complements you."

The Marcuses were first introduced to each other in eighth grade, when they played for the same Junior Maroons feeder basketball team, coached by Howard's father, Jeff.

As freshmen, both were promoted to the sophomore team and then as sophomores, they made the varsity. Halfway through the season, both nabbed spots in the starting lineup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It was neat that we experienced everything together," Howard said.

That sophomore season was the highlight for the Marcuses.

Along with Harrington, a junior, Howard and Smallwood led Elgin to a 30-2 record. Had the Maroons not lost to one of the best teams in IHSA state history in the first round (state quarterfinals) downstate, there's no telling how far they could have gone.

"We ran into the best team in the country in Whitney Young, which had (now retired NBA player) Quentin Richardson," Howard said. "We had such a good team and had so much success and we had a great coach."

The Marcuses were mentored by legendary Elgin coach Jim Harrington, Sean Harrington's father.

"Being coached by Coach Harrington, getting to play with Marcus and Sean, going downstate, that was so much fun," Smallwood said. "Those are some of my best memories of high school. We had the best coaches, and the best teams."

Under the Marcuses, Elgin won three straight regionals and posted three-straight 20-win seasons. They finished their careers as seniors being named honorary co-captains of the Daily Herald's 2000 Fox Valley all-area team.

Then it was off to Division I college basketball for both: Indiana State for Howard and Northern Illinois for Smallwood.

Smallwood was a first-team all-conference choice and Howard made his league's all-defensive team. Smallwood went on to play professional basketball in Europe for 10 years.

But it is their years at Elgin that seem most poignant for the Marcuses. Those years stick out most.

"Those were special," said Howard, who now lives in Huntley with his wife Angela and his three kids (Gianna, 15, Austin, 8 and Khloe, 5) and works in the family business (Howard Custom Transfers) in Elgin.

"To play at Elgin and to be a part of such great teams, that was really fun. It's something I really cherish."

Smallwood has been all over the world and now lives in Miami, Fla., as he tries to start his own personal training business. But he loves to reminisce about the good old days with the Maroons.

"(Being named to the Hall of Fame) just solidifies what I've always thought about our years at Elgin," Smallwood said. "We weren't always the most athletic team, but we were smart and we were coached well and we had a great work ethic and we got results. We had so much fun."

More Hall inductees: Three other athletes will be inducted with Howard and Smallwood into the 2020 class of the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame.

Jon Charneskey for handball, John Lohbauer for football and Rick Young for baseball.

Meanwhile, Mark Sharf will receive the 2020 Vic Masi Award for his long and dedicated service to local high schools.

Sharf served in various capacities at local high schools, as an athletic trainer at St. Edward and Streamwood. He volunteered as a scout and assistant for the Elgin girls basketball team for 11 seasons and since 2004, he has been a volunteer on the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame board of directors.

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