During his redshirt junior year, Marques Townes didn’t receive any recognition for his efforts on the Loyola men’s basketball team. He watched as teammates got Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, while he was left empty-handed.
This year, Townes said he held a grudge and put his fate into his own hands. His 15.6 points per game and 5.1 assists per game, as well as the actions that don’t show up on a stat sheet, spoke volumes as he stormed back to win MVC Player of the Year.
“It was a really good feeling,” Townes said. “Just to see how far I’ve came. Just to realize that the work I’ve put in really showed. You start thinking about all the times when it was really rough and you just push through.”
Townes said he’s fueled by having a constant “chip on his shoulder” — something that has always shaped how he plays the game.
It showed last year after not getting any conference awards. But Townes was named last year to the MVC Tournament All-Tournament Team and NCAA Tournament All-South Region Team.
He said it continued to drive him when the Ramblers didn’t have as good of a non-conference season as they had hoped. The team went 8-7 in non-conference play, after coming off a year where they only lost six games all season.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect,” Townes said. “We fought through some stuff early and I feel like that just made us better.”
Using obstacles to intensify his game isn’t the only thing Townes said he learned during his time at Loyola. He also talked about the importance of having a good team dynamic to overcome obstacles.
“When you have a good environment, people that believe in the same thing,” Townes said. “When you have guys rallying around each other, willing to do whatever it takes to sacrifice for each other, when you have good camaraderie in the locker room on and off the court. When you have good leadership by veterans you can overcome anything. Fight through anything. Overcome adversity. Fight through adversity.”
Using his surroundings to fight through adversity is something Townes plans on using in his future. He said he wants to try and play professionally after he leaves Loyola in May, but all he’s learned from his time on the team is going to help him.
Townes specifically pointed to other leadership he’s played with as an influence. He said Rambler alumni Milton Doyle, Ben Richardson and Donte Ingram showed him how important it is to be a leader, but also be able to go back to your roots and stay humble — something Townes said he‘s going to utilize in his professional career.
“After I leave, I’m going to be the little guy again, so I’m not going to be the leader anymore,” Townes said. “I know it’s going to be a lot of great veterans out there when I leave Loyola and start my professional career. Definitely just try to soak in as much knowledge [and] as much learning as I can.”
One thing that describes Townes on the court is his confidence. He said he always tries to add his own flare to his actions even if it’s unusual, he just tries to be a trendsetter. From his shoes to his hair he said he’s trying to be original in everything he does.
Townes has a pair of shoes that look like they don’t match. He was even asked if he lost the matches and he said “they came that way.”
Fellow redshirt senior guard Clayton Custer described Townes as having a sense of “swag” that rubs off on the team. The example he pointed to was when Townes goes up for the shot, makes it and is fouled.
“He flexes and hits his muscles,” Custer said. “It might be hard to know what that’s like on the outside but when you’re on his team and you see him do that it just gets you going a little bit, it gets you excited.”
Townes said confidence is the best tool an athlete can have because it not only controls his mindset but also can dictate how he plays on the court. He said it can be hard to keep up your confidence during certain situations, but he tries not to let anyone or anything take his confidence away.
“I’ve been through these times,” Townes said. “I’ve been through championships. I’ve been through the ups [and] I’ve been through the downs; I’ve been through it all throughout my career. The only thing I took out of going through those trials and tribulations was just stay confident to yourself. Never let anyone take that away from you. If you let someone take your confidence away from you, you’re just going to break down.”