More than two years ago, before he’d generated much of a national reputation, Maverick Rowan introduced himself by way of an early commitment to Pittsburgh. He pledged to the Panthers just following his freshman year in high school, during which he averaged 23 points per game.
Rowan continued to cruise along and began to draw widespread acclaim on the 2014 Adidas circuit, playing with the Ohio Basketball Club. He showcased not only a capable shooting stroke but also the ball skills to contribute in multiple facets.
But the adventure truly began last fall. First, he backed off his pledge to Pitt, believing that he’d made his initial commitment too early in the process. Rowan’s father, Ron, played at Notre Dame and St. John’s in the 1980s prior to a lengthy career overseas, so clearly the family understood the nature of big-time collegiate athletics and the value of fit.
The younger Rowan entered his junior season suddenly a hot commodity and experiencing new academic environs. He transferred to Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons and immediately began to post huge scoring numbers, and last winter he noted that Wisconsin, Louisville and NC State had prioritized him most.
Rumors also sprung forth that he may reclassify forward and thus effectively become a member of the 2015 class, enabling him to transition directly from summer basketball to practice at the campus of his choice this fall.
Rowan enrolled in summer school to reflect that possibility yet also toured with his 2016 peers on the travel circuit, this time playing for Nike-backed Each 1 Teach 1.
In 19 total games this spring and summer with E1T1, he averaged 17 points per game and knocked in a solid 37 percent on threes. By mid-summer it had become apparent that college likely would be his 2015-16 destination, and one of four contenders — NCSU, Louisville, St. John’s and West Virginia — would gain the nod.
He committed to Mark Gottfried’s Wolfpack in early August and told colleague Evan Daniels that, “Coach Gottfried does a great job with his wings and getting them shots coming off wing. In the past, he's gotten shots for T.J. Warren and Trevor Lacey and I think I can be the impact wing that they were.”
Rowan built his name primarily on the basis of his jump shot. The slender guard possesses outstanding range with a quick release — always an overlooked attribute — and picture perfect stroke, so mechanically his results should translate well to college.
Meanwhile, he stands 6-7 and thus is very tall for a wing, not unlike former Wolfpack bomber Scott Wood. The difference is that, while not quite as consistent as Wood from deep, Rowan actually possesses more diverse skills.
He’s a fine handler and passer who punishes defenders who close out too aggressively. And because he’s able to forecast such aggressive defense and tall enough to pass over the top, he sets up the angles to find a big man for wide open looks inside or to a guard on the perimeter.
Opinions about his athleticism are mixed, but clearly he’s more mobile than the standard designated shooter. Rowan navigates well through screens and possesses good body control to finish on the break. In fact, during my summer viewings some of his most impressive moments were transition baskets using a soft touch off the glass. He also shot 121 free throws in 19 games, indicative of a balanced shooter/scorer.
Again, he’s hardly a one-dimensional player and fans shouldn’t expect to see him pigeon-holed in Raleigh.
And now for the more bearish take on his athleticism. Rowan lacks true ACC-worthy lateral quickness, which could cause him to endure some very challenging matchups on defense. Combined with his slight frame, chances are he’ll need to be combined with a more explosive wing whom the coaching staff assigns the opponent’s most dangerous perimeter threat.
The good news is that he’s 6-7, and very wings at that size in college possess legitimate post-up skills. Most players at that size who do play that way occupy what traditionally was the power forward position.
Meanwhile, Rowan didn’t shoot his free throws quite as well for E1T1 as you might have expected, notching a 71 percent mark from the line. His stroke is on point, as mentioned, so odds are that’s merely a concentration issue.
In many respects, Rowan represents the sweet spot for college coaches in the modern environment. He’s talented enough to play this season for the Wolfpack, yet his modest quickness and explosiveness are likely to keep him in college for at least three seasons.
For that reason, then, Rowan should earn meaningful achievements for the Pack. Additionally, if Gottfried and his assistants are able to reel in a dream 2016 class that includes Dennis Smith and Edrice Adebayo, Rowan would be a sophomore during their freshman season and a junior the year following their likely departure to the NBA. His role in program continuity could prove critical.
Though he switched classes late, Rowan is a legitimate top-50 type talent and slots at No. 37 in our revised rankings for the 2015 class.