Howell to receive officials’ award at OVAC All-Star Game

You name the aspect of high school basketball officiating and John Howell has been involved.

The Shadyside resident and Lancaster Fairfield Union graduate has worked in a bevy of capacities for the Ohio Valley Board of Basketball Officials for 38 years and remains involved to this day despite his retirement from actually blowing the whistle.

For his tireless efforts and lengthy list of accomplishments, Howell has been chosen for the Robert Dawson Basketball Officials Award, which will be presented during the annual Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Game on Sunday, April 7 at Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville.

Howell began officiating in 1972 and got the call for his first varsity game in 1974 when Paden City took on St. Mary’s.

From that point, until March 11, 2009 when Howell called his final game, which was a West Virginia Class AA Regional at Phillip Barbour, Howell has almost seen and done it all on the court.

Howell’s expertise landed him 75 regional tournament assignments between Ohio and West Virginia. Of those, he worked 22 boys regionals and 20 girls in Ohio. He worked 18 boys and 16 girls in the Mountain State.

The coaches and states used Howell on 27 state tournaments in his career. He made his state tournament debut in 1983 in the West Virginia girls’ tournament. His first boys’ state tournament came at St. John Arena in Columbus in 1987.

His first West Virginia boys’ state tournament came in 1988 and a week later he worked his second straight state tourney in the Buckeye State.

Howell worked his final state tournament at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in 2008. In between, he worked 14 Ohio boys, five girls; six West Virginia boys and two girls.

In 1993, Howell worked a West Virginia state semifinal game in the morning and then that evening he headed to Columbus and worked an Ohio State semifinal girls’ game.

During his 1996 Ohio State assignment, he worked the first-ever state title game with three officials. He was a part of that history in West Virginia the following season.

Howell, who was elected to the Ohio Officials Hall of Fame in 2003, was named District V Official of the Year in 1991, District 12 Official of the Year in 1992 and West Virginia Official of the Year in 1994. He received the NFIOA Official of the Year Award for West Virginia in 1992 and Ohio in 1997.

Howell worked games involving several big-time athletes for both boys and girls. Some of the players he officiated games involving include: LeBron James, Carmello Anthony, Jason Williams, Kevin Martin, Randy Moss, Joey Galloway, Geno Ford, Shaun Stonerook, Katie Smith and Semeka Randall just to name a few.

In 1995, Howell took over the position of OVAC Basketball Commissioner. He still maintains that job to this day and is responsible for scheduling of all boys’ basketball officials for conference games. Prior to ascending to the commissioner’s duties, he was the assistant commissioner from 1983-94.

Along with officiating, Howell served as the training class instructor for 16 years and, from his class, 15 officials have went on to work a state tournament in either Ohio or West Virginia.

On top of basketball, Howell has become a staple at area track meets as a registered official and clerk. He began helping at area track meets in 1972.