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Two Howard County standouts taking different routes to continue basketball pursuits beyond high school

Howard's Cooper Haberern, left, and Wilde Lake's Marcus Mitchell were both Howard County All-County selections during the 2019-20 season.
Howard's Cooper Haberern, left, and Wilde Lake's Marcus Mitchell were both Howard County All-County selections during the 2019-20 season.

A pair of Howard County’s top boys basketball players from last winter have lined up the next step in their basketball careers, and both are heading north.

Howard High senior Cooper Haberern — a first team All-County selection in 2020 — committed last week to play in college at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania after he graduates next spring. Meanwhile, recent Wilde Lake High graduate Marcus Mitchell — a second team All-County selection this past season — chose the prep school route and is heading to Olympus Prep in New Jersey.

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Haberern turned heads this past season after transferring into the Lions program from Long Reach, hitting 42 3-pointers and averaging 16.9 points a game as a junior at Howard. He said that his original plan was to wait until after his senior season to commit to a college, but with high school sports postponed until at least February and the status of winter sports still undecided, he opted to make the decision now.

“With the uncertainty, I decided I wanted to just get everything squared away so that I can now focus on getting my game and body ready for the college level,” Haberern said. “At this point, not knowing what a season would look like — if there even is one — this just made the most sense for me.”

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Howard's Cooper Haberern slams in two points in the first half against Fallston. Howard defeats Fallston, 80-37 during the opening game of the Manchester Valley Holiday Tournament in Manchester Thursday afternoon.
Howard's Cooper Haberern slams in two points in the first half against Fallston. Howard defeats Fallston, 80-37 during the opening game of the Manchester Valley Holiday Tournament in Manchester Thursday afternoon. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

He will be joining a top-tier Division III program in Susquehanna, which won the Landmark Conference tournament championship this past season and made the NCAA tournament. Jay Martin, a River Hill graduate and 2018 Howard County Co-Player of the Year, is already on the River Hawks' roster.

“Academically, it’s a great business school and that is what I’m looking to major in. And basketball-wise they were conference champions last year and they play fast, which is the style I’m looking for,” said Haberern, who is a member of the HC Elite AAU program. “Talking to Jay Martin, getting some great insight from him, made me realize this is a great fit for me.”

Mitchell was also in heavy talks with several Division III programs regarding playing basketball collegiately. But, in June, he decided that he didn’t want to risk a year of eligibility for an upcoming winter season that might not happen.

“With the coronavirus going around, I really didn’t know what the best option was for me and I went back and forth a lot,” he said. “The biggest thing is that I get to play basketball this year, keep getting better, and I ended up deciding the best chance for that to happen was going prep. One of my coaches since middle school knew one of the coaches up there and got us connected.”

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Wilde Lake's Marcus Mitchell move past Centennial's Shane Taylor in the 3A East Region I championship game Thursday.
Wilde Lake's Marcus Mitchell move past Centennial's Shane Taylor in the 3A East Region I championship game Thursday. (Nicole Munchel for the Baltimore/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Mitchell had a breakout season of his own this past winter, averaging 13.5 points and 3.2 assists per game while leading Wilde Lake to a 3A East Region I championship. This summer, he’s kept his game in shape by competing in the Wintarian Blacktop League at Celebration Church in Columbia.

He’s scheduled to head up to New Jersey on Sunday and then will start school and basketball training with the program shortly after.

“I’m not really sure what to expect, but I’m excited for the opportunity to keep working and improving my game,” Mitchell said. “It’s definitely going to be a new experience.”

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