LITTLE ROCK — One of the best players from the era of Arkansas Razorbacks basketball that elevated the men’s program to elite national heights has passed away.
Lenzie Howell died on Saturday, according to multiple reports. He was 52.
Howell, a bouncy 6-foot-4 forward from Dallas who came to Arkansas in 1988 from San Jacinto junior college in Texas, was a key in leading legendary coach Nolan Richardson’s fourth Arkansas team to the Final Four in the 1989-90 season, which triggered a seven-year run that saw the Hogs make a total of three Finals Fours (including winning a national title in ’93-94), an Elite Eight, and two Sweet 16s.
Playing alongside more heralded Hogs in Todd Day, Lee Mayberry, and Oliver Miller — all three would be first-round NBA draft picks in 1992 — it was Howell who garnered Midwest Regional most outstanding player honors as Arkansas defeated Princeton, Dayton, North Carolina, and Texas to reach the 1990 Final Four in Denver, where the Hogs would fall to Duke in the national semifinals.
Howell was also named the 1989 Southwest Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
In his two seasons at Arkansas, Howell played in 66 games and averaged 14.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 steals while shooting 53.3% from the field and 76.4% from the free throw line. Arkansas went 55-12 in his two seasons in Fayetteville, including winning back-to-back SWC regular-season titles (’88-89 and 89-’90) as well as the school’s first-ever back-to-back conference postseason tournament titles (also ’88-89 and ’89-90).
Howell was a smooth operator whose offensive attack took place mostly in the mid-range and in the paint. A two-legged jumper, he was not only a high-riser for rebounds but he was a formidable dunker.
His professional career was played almost exclusively overseas, and he was a two-time Dutch League MVP (1991 and 1992). He was also named Dutch League Dunk Champion in 1992.