Every NCAA Tournament seems to have a breakout star who puts NBA scouts on notice and captures the hearts of millions of fans around the country. After a historic and gutsy performance that led Kansas State basketball to an overtime victory over Michigan State, point guard Markquis Nowell has announced himself as the latest March Madness meteorite.
The redshirt senior electrified Madison Square Garden, making winning play after winning play to boost his often unheralded Wildcats through the Sweet Sixteen, 98-93. So many, that he achieved elite history by breaking the single-game NCAA Tournament record for most assists with 19, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Markquis Nowell's 19 assists are the most in an NCAA tournament game since assists became official in 1984.
He passes UNLV's Mark Wade who had 18 assists in the 1987 National Semifinals pic.twitter.com/VCiIrmQxjb
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 24, 2023
He also joined Ja Morant and three others to become the fifth player to ever record 15 points and 15 assists in a Tourney game since 1984. Nowell gave fans a shot of adrenaline they did not know they needed. He shined in crunch time, throwing a perfect no-look alley-oop to teammate Keyontae Johnson- who has his own incredible story– to give Kansas State a 94-92 lead with under a minute left in overtime.
Arguably the play of the Tournament, the dime tied Nowell with UNLV's Mark Wade (1987) for assist No. 18. Perhaps even more incredible, however, was that the pass came while the 23-year-old was talking to first-year head coach Jerome Tang. It was as befuddling as it was amazing.
MARKQUIS NOWELL. ABSOLUTELY UNREAL.#MarchMadness @KStateMBB pic.twitter.com/iuih64m4Ex
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 24, 2023
Nowell's work was far from done, though. He broke the record with an inbound pass to Ismael Massoud for a corner jumper to put his team up three. He put a bow on the game and one of the greatest performances in college basketball history with a steal and breakaway layup as the final buzzer sounded. He finished with 20 points, 19 assists and five steals. A stat sheet befitting of the Mecca of Basketball.
The Wildcats were predicted to finish last in the Big 12 Conference during the preseason. Although he finished second in the country in assists with 7.8 per game, Nowell checks in at just 5-foot-8 and has not popped up on many mock NBA Drafts. Destiny had melded their two paths together so that fans could be treated to a ridiculously exhilarating ride.
Regardless of what his future holds, it will be hard to argue that March, 2023 does not belong to Markquis Nowell.