Bowers Growing to Enjoy Basketball

Posted by Michael Glick on Dec 26 2002 at 04:00PM PST
By Pat O'Malley Sun Staff Originally published December 26, 2002 Will Bowers of Archbishop Spalding has literally inched his way to a full basketball scholarship at the University of Maryland. Bowers has grown from a 6-foot-5 grade schooler who practically had to be pushed onto the court into a 7-0 senior who has flashed enough potential to be recruited by the defending NCAA champions. Basketball didn't particularly interest him until his sophomore year in high school. When he was in grade school, his mother, Karen Bowers, signed him up for youth basketball without telling him. Bowers reluctantly played through ninth grade because "I was so tall and my parents wanted me to play." He got even taller in high school, going from 6-7 as a freshman to 6-9 as a sophomore to 6-11 as a junior before reaching his current height. As Bowers grew, so did his passion for the game. "I was weak and uncoordinated as a freshman and was only playing because I was tall," Bowers said. "I started growing in the offseason and by the fall I was about 6-9 and a lot stronger [from lifting weights]. I was a starter [as a sophomore], and I started to realize that I could play. "My confidence was really up, and I started to love the game and wanted to get better." And though his statistics might not show it, Bowers has dramatically developed his game: He runs the court well and is an intelligent passer and tough rebounder, with good hands, agility in the post and a soft touch on medium-range jumpers. In fact, his coach, Mike Glick, has such faith in him that Glick set up a play to give Bowers a last-second, three-point shot last week at Eleanor Roosevelt. Bowers made a 22-footer, sending the game into overtime. Spalding defeated the defending Class 4A state champion, 56-51. "He has a tremendous upside because of his versatility," Glick said, "and I can only see Gary [Williams, Terps coach] turning him into an excellent Division I player." Glick's teams don't feature high scorers - former Sun Player of the Year Derrick Snowden's 15.4 has been Spalding's highest average during Glick's four seasons - so Bowers has not put up big numbers. Bowers is averaging 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds this season for the No. 4 Cavaliers after last season's 12.2 and 6.0. Those undistinguished statistics have raised questions about Bowers' suitability as an Atlantic Coast Conference recruit. "It might seem to be a little bit of a stretch for Bowers to be going to Maryland, but who can question Gary Williams' judgment?" said Paul Baker, a former high school and college coach and longtime commentator on the local basketball scene. "Gary has proven he has a keen eye for kids and projects them very well." Still, Baker said Bowers has slow feet, which could hinder him in college and possibly mean he will sit out next season as a redshirt. "Few 7-footers are good enough to play more than 25 minutes at the next level," Baker said. "Seven-footers are becoming less and less of a commodity." However, Morgan Wootten, the Hall of Fame coach who recently retired from DeMatha High in Hyattsville, said Bowers is "a good, solid prospect who is agile enough and has a fine touch for a big man." Spalding assistant coach Ralph Burley, a mentor to Bowers after persuading the Hanover resident to choose Spalding over Mount St. Joseph, said: "I don't think he will be redshirted, but I think he can come in and get minutes. I don't how many minutes he will get, but I think he can help the team. He's not going to be [an] All-American his freshman year, but in time, if he keeps working the way he did this summer, I think the sky is the limit for him." Calvert Hall coach Mark Ama- tucci, who once coached at Loyola College and Anne Arundel Community College, has seen Bowers in action. "He runs the floor well and has a nice touch for his size," Amatucci said. "Maryland obviously has the confidence to develop him." Bowers was nothing special as a 6-7, 190-pound freshman on the Spalding JV, and he thought he was finished growing. "The doctors projected me to stop growing at 6-7, and I thought I was pretty much done, but I ended up growing another 5 inches," said Bowers, who weighs 250 pounds. His father, Bill Bowers, is 6-5, his mother 6-0. He has a 6-8 cousin. Bowers recently set a school record for all-time blocked shots and is averaging 2.0 blocks this season. Last season, he was named All-County and second-team All-Metro for the No. 4 Cavaliers. The honors recognized the improvement built, in part, on summers spent playing Amateur Athletic Union ball. Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos scouted Bowers extensively last season and recommended the Spalding junior to Williams. The Terps offered a full scholarship in July and by July 27, Bowers committed orally. Bowers, who more than quali-fies academically with a 3.30 grade point average and 1,310 on his SAT, chose the Terps over such schools as Connecticut, Notre Dame and Stanford. "At first, I couldn't under- stand why he picked Maryland over Stanford and Notre Dame," said Karen Bowers, but I asked him [and] he said, 'Because this is where I will be happy,' and what other words could a mother want to hear? I thought, this is great, because he's going to be close to home and I'll still be able to do his laundry. Oh, boy." Bowers' dad said he was disappointed their only child didn't want to take visits to some of the other schools. "He told me he knew he wanted to go to Maryland and couldn't see having other schools spend money to fly him out there and feed him if he had no intention of going there," Bill Bowers said. "I thought that was a pretty mature thing to do and not take advantage of a free trip to California or whatever." Bowers said he simply liked everything about the Maryland situation and the Terps liked everything about him, especially his potential. "I need to work on my athleti- cism, quick jumping and my left hand because the ACC is full of talented players," Bowers said. "Gary Williams is known for taking big men not necessarily rated high by the analysts and Internet people and improving them and putting them in a better position after four years than a lot of guys rated ahead of them." Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun


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