One on one with 2017 5* SF Brian Bowen

Rated as one of the 10 best players in the loaded class of 2017, Saginaw (Mich.) Arthur Hill standout small forward Brian Bowen has the entirety of the nation’s blue blood roster of programs recruiting him. We sat down with the five star prospect to get the latest on his early recruitment including Duke’s personal touch.

Starting out Brian I wanted to ask—where did your nickname “Tugs” come from?

Brian Bowen: When I was younger my parents told me that I was a big baby and I would tug on everything including doctors ears, furniture, they said I tugged on everything like a tug boat so they just started calling me Tugs and it’s stuck ever since.

Heard you had practice this evening—how are things going with your team?

It went well, we had an intense practice because we have a big game coming up. We played our big rival last week and we beat them by 22 points I think, so that was a real good win for us. They talked a lot of junk too, so it was definitely a really good win.

What kind of role are you playing for your team this year?

Well right now I’m playing all around. Scoring the ball, rebounding, just doing everything plus the little things. I’m just doing whatever I can to help the team win at the two guard position. It’s been pretty good so far this season and a lot of our guards are stepping up which is good. We noticed in practice that they are stepping up a lot which has been good so in the games I’ve been trying to get them more involved so we can come together and win a state championship.

Is the team more a younger team or more older with veterans and a few young guys mixed in?

We actually only have 3 seniors this year so our team is really young this year actually. Everybody on the team is pretty young. I try to lead a lot of the times, me and Eric, we both lead back and forth if we see something that we can tell them how to do it right.

For fans who haven’t watched you play before Brian—how would you describe what your floor game looks like on both ends of the court?

On both ends I’m a real versatile player for my height. I like to dribble up the court, shoot, rebound, just pass the ball—pretty much an all around game. On defense I like to guard the best player on the court just to get my defense ready for college. I try to guard both small guys at guard and I also switch back and forth to guarding guys in the post too and the guards too.

What are your current height and weight at the moment?

I’m 6-foot-7, and 185 pounds. I’m not really sure what my wingspan is right now, I haven’t measured that in awhile.

Projecting to college—are you hoping to play more a traditional 2 guard role or do you envision being more of a wing forward type player?

I’d prefer the two guard position so I can dribble the ball up the court. I like the wing and I can go back and forth but as far as my main position, I prefer the two guard position.

For some two guards they play more a skill type role whereas others who have more of that freak athleticism will play a more physical, athletic type role. What’s your approach on the court?

I’m not a freak athlete who can just all up out of the gym, but I’m a pretty good athlete, I like to shoot so that’s a good position for me to be in at shooting guard because I like to shoot. I like to have the ball in my hands too, not all the time, just some of the time so I can do things at the point guard position while also being the two guard, bring it up, just whenever you have the ball in your hands and make plays.

What’s a typical workout looking like these days for you?

Pretty much everyday I work on my ball-handling and my shooting. That’s the main thing I’m working on getting better at is my ball-handling and my shooting. I get up more shots after practice and I’ve been getting in the weight room a lot too. It’s hard to tell how many shots I get up extra, sometimes I’ll use a shooting gun with my coach.

Are you the type who needs a certain amount of shots per game to be effective?

My approach is more selective, I don’t have to shoot the ball every time but when I get the chance to shoot the ball if it’s a good shot I will. Or if I see an open teammate I’ll get the ball to them. Sometimes I throw it ahead up the court if they are open, but if I have an open shot that’s good, I will take it.

I also heard you are going to playing up with your 17U AAU team this spring/summer—what’s your thoughts on going up another level?

Yeah I probably will be playing 17 and under because last year I played with my 16 and under team and I dominated there, so I feel like I can dominate at the 17 and under level as well.

I understand you also got the opportunity to play with USA Basketball this past year as well…

Yeah I went out to the mini-camp out there back in October and I had a great experience. I had heard a lot of things about it but as far as my age, I don’t think I’m going to be able to play there this year, I might have to wait until next summer or the summer after that to play with them again. It was a good experience though. It was because of the year that I was born that I can’t play with this year’s team, I’m still going to graduate when I’m 18 but I was born in October 1998 and they said that you have to be in 1999 or 2000 to play in 16 and under.

How did playing with USA Basketball help you?

It helped me grow up a lot, playing against the Hoop Summit guys and all the older guys seeing how their games have developed over the years. Plus it was good seeing how their bodies had grown over the years, they dribble the ball well and they shoot the ball well too. I have a lot to learn and I need to make sure I’m in the gym a lot and that I just keep on working.

Have you really developed any close friendships through USA Basketball?

Pretty much everybody in my class that was there and the younger class too, we pretty much talked for like 3 days. We just checked on everybody now and see how their seasons are going. There were a couple of guys that I talked with a lot while I was there. I was talking with Jalen Brunson and Jaylen Brown and Chase Jeter.

What were your thoughts on Chase Jeter?

I had never known him before camp actually because he played on the Adidas Circuit. He was telling me how his season was going but I had never really known those guys before.

Have you stayed in contact with anybody from that camp?

Not the older guys but the guys in my class I talk to.

Your class is as loaded as any in a few years, what are your thoughts about being a part of that group of players?

I think I fit in great, I can play all around positions. As far as my position in the class, I feel pretty good about it.

Is there anybody in your class or the class ahead of you that you think to yourself that it’d be interesting to maybe play with them one day in college?

I think a couple guys actually. DeAndre Ayton, he’s the number one player, he’s a big guy and then a point guard, Troy Brown. Those are two guys that I’ve been maybe thinking about hooking up with one day in college.

What is it for you about those two guys that makes you potentially want to play together with them in college?

With DeAndre, he’s just a great big man and he plays hard all the time, which I really like that in a player. He rebounds the ball real well too. As far as Troy, he really likes to get his teammates involved, it’s not all about him, he’s a guy I’m interested to play with as well. Actually at the LeBron Camp all three of us played together, so that was kinda good right there. We played really well together both against the older guys and the younger guys there. You could see that we could make a lot of things happen amongst us young kids.

Are you, DeAndre and Troy having any kind of conversation about playing together at this point, or still too early for that kind of stuff with you guys?

We haven’t had anything serious about colleges yet with where we want to go and that kind of stuff yet. I’m not really sure yet, it’s too early right now but potentially in the later years we might talk about something like that or maybe even with other guys in my class too. I can hook up with any of them and it’d be great.

From reading reports about your recruitment it sounds like it’s already taken off with a lot of strong interest from schools. How much communication are you personally having with the coaches at this point?

I actually have a lot of exposure with it. After last AAU season I got a lot of attention from a lot of coaches coming to my games.

Was there any coaches that really caught your attention with how many games of yours that they attended?

I can’t say it’s one specific coach but pretty much all the coaches recruiting me, I look at it as a blessing that they are even recruiting me. They are talking good about me and that they like that I play hard and they like my versatility and my height too. They all are pretty much talking the same.

Has there been any coaches this school year that have made it a real priority to talk with you and your coaches and family?

It hasn’t been one specific coach who has been constantly, every day calling but Coach Izzo has been calling lately a lot. Coach Beilein from Michigan, pretty much all the schools. Coach K has been talking to my coach, Bill Self, they all have been talking around to my coaches and to my family.

What’s it like to have those kinds of coaching resume recruiting you?

It’s great, it’s just a blessing that these coaches just come out for a guy like me and who want me to come to their schools. It’s really just a blessing, every school recruiting me and how they have shown a lot of interest in me.

You mentioned Coach K has been talking with your coach…

Yeah him and Bill Self, Coach Calipari, pretty much everyone has been talking with him.

Have you interacted personally with any of the coaches who are reaching out to your coaches or parents?

There’s been some assistant coaches who have been talking with my dad, but I haven’t directly talked with anybody yet.

  What kind of feedback has your dad been giving you about his interactions with the coaches that are calling him?

They just say they like the way I play, keep working hard to get better and being a great teammate. Just keep working hard and work on my ball-handling and just keep on working on everything so I can get better.

What are your thoughts on Duke being involved with you?

I wasn't really looking into a lot of schools before they started looking into me but after a lot of these schools started looking into me I started doing my own looking into them a lot more. Watching these schools games, so I've been watching a lot of their games with a lot of schools, seeing how they play and how their two guards play. How the coaches are in the gym and all that stuff, but yeah I've been watching how they are when they play.

Has there been any schools that have caught your attention with what they do from the items you just mentioned you are looking closely at?

Not one school that's just like wow it's crazy that they do that. Pretty much every school recruiting me is crazy with how they are recruiting me.

Are there any specific schools that are attempting to line up visits with you this year Brian?

As of now I'm not really sure with that. There's not really any school that I'm really just dying to go visit but I've just been looking at every school that has been recruiting me so far. Over the next probably next year, that will probably be a real busy year for me, that's when schools will be able to start talking to us a lot more, so I'll probably have to go a couple schools at least as far as unofficial visits go, see how their game is. Probably next year will be a real busy year with that.

Do you think you and your family are going to be real selective in where you take unofficial visits, or will you more than likely have the opportunity to take as many unofficial visits as you want in the future?

Usually I won't go and call the school and ask them if I can come there for a visit, usually I will wait for them to call me down there for a visit and see how it goes, how their team has been doing, what kind of atmosphere they have there. I don't think there's any specific school that I would call on my own and say that I really really want to come do a visit. I'll wait for them to call me up about that.

With that approach--can you share any schools who have been indicating to you and your family their desire for you to come to their campus for a visit this year?

North Carolina, they want me to come at the beginning of the year for their Midnight Madness and Duke they want me to come down there as well and NC State. Michigan, Michigan State both want me to come down there. Illinois wants me to come and that's pretty much it right now.

With those schools you just mentioned-are any of them under consideration by you and your family during their current season?

Do you think it's more likely for you with the schools recruiting you that are farther away from where you live that you will look to visit them during the spring or summer AAU season when you have time?

If I’m in the area more than likely I will try to get down to the schools but if not, I’ll try to make my way down to those schools somehow. 

Since we're talking schools at this point that are recruiting you--can you update me on what schools have extended firm, committable scholarship offers to you at this point?

Man, there's a lot. Michigan State, Missouri, Iowa, Iowa State, NC State. Let me think, my dad knows them all. Louisville, there's about four or five more that I can't remember at this point off the top my head.

How about schools recruiting you that haven't extended a scholarship offer at this point?

Yeah, that's Kansas, Michigan, Ohio State, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse has been talking to, Stanford and UCLA.

From the group of schools that haven't offered you yet but who are recruiting you…are there any from that group that you are really hoping to have a scholarship offer from before you move forward in tailoring your list down to the schools you will likely decide from?

I'm not really hoping, not super hoping that I get a scholarship from any one particular school but if they do offer, it's just a blessing that they are showing interest.

How big a deal for you Brian are the schools who have already extended a scholarship offer to you at this point?

I try to, once I get offered, I tend to think about it a lot because it's just a blessing that all these schools are showing interest in me. I just try to not get big-headed, just keep my head on straight, keep working hard, that's what I'm trying to do.

For some guys they go into their recruiting process early on with a plan they follow with when they plan on tailoring their list down, when they would like to commit, stuff like that. Do you have a plan like that in place?

As of right now I'm wide open to any school in the country. I don't have any school that I'm just locked down with in terms of interest in them. I'm just keeping my options open this year and I'll be looking around in the future, I haven't been looking too much into them at this point.

You mentioned earlier you were paying attention to how coaches' coach their teams and how their two guards play when you watch teams play. Are those the major factors you are going to think about with whatever schools you evaluate whether you are going there or not?

Those are two big things, but as far as other stuff, I have to see who is going there to a school, how would I play, would I go in to start or start on the bench. How does the coaching staff treat you, do they treat you like it's a family and do they treat my family well too. Those are the things I'll be looking at as well with all the schools.

Sounds like early playing time is a factor in your decision, do you need to see a clear path to meaningful two guard minutes on the depth chart in order to seriously consider a school?

Yeah I would like to have that, that would be great if I could come in and be able to have a big role on the team and have the opportunity to earn good minutes. I'm not caring if there's too many guys there at the two, I'll just look at who they have or who they have coming in and I will see if I'm able to fit in with them.

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