Howell was a 6'7" forward at Mississippi State University. Despite playing at the college level for only three years, he set and still holds Mississippi State records for single-game points scored, career scoring average, single-season and career free throws made, single-season and career free throws attempted, single-game free throw percentage, single-game rebounds, single-season rebounds, career rebounds, and single-season and career rebounding average. His scoring records are particularly impressive, since there was no three-point line or shot clock at the time that he played. He is considered a legend to the Bulldog basketball faithful, and one of best-known players to have played at MSU. He is probably most known for his hook shot, rebounding ability, and work ethic as a player and person.
After his career ended, he went to work with the Converse shoe company, particularly with the Converse All-Star. He resides in Starkville, Mississippi where he is very active in Mississippi State athletics fund-raising, specifically the Bulldog Club, an organized fund to pay for MSU athletic scholarships. He currently serves as an elder for the Starkville church of Christ.
On February 7, 2009 Howell's jersey (#52) was retired at halftime of the Mississippi State versus University of Arkansas game. Bailey is the first MSU basketball player to have his jersey retired. A banner displaying his number and years of play is now on permanent display in the Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bailey Howell Award is given annually to best collegiate basketball player in the state of Mississippi. The bronze statue that is awarded each year was designed by J. Kim Sessums.
The gymnasium at Middleton (TN) High School bears his name.
He is the father-in-law of current Mississippi State Athletic Director, Scott Stricklin.