There was something fitting about Darrell Bowie's mid-March trip to Ames falling on Selection Sunday, a day that he has long waited to enjoy.
For this year, at least, Bowie waited to find out where his future program might land in its fifth consecutive NCAA tournament trip. Come next March, the Northern Illinois graduate transfer will be in Ames, and he’s hopeful that for the first time in his five-year collegiate career, he too can wait in anticipation.
“The main thing for me, what I told them was, ‘Man, I just want to play in the NCAA tournament, because that’s one thing I’ve never done,’” Bowie said he told Iowa State players. “They said that’s one of their biggest goals, too, just to get back to the tournament and make a run at it. With us all having the same goals and coming together on that, I just think I fit right in well with what we’re going to try to do and what we’re going to try to accomplish looking forward to next season.”
Iowa State’s push for the 6-foot-7 Bowie began in late February when he signed papers to transfer from Northern Illinois as an immediately eligible graduate transfer. Cyclones coach Steve Prohm and assistant T.J. Otzelberger visited soon after and locked up the much-needed forward in the first days of March before he even visited.
Bowie, who sat out the 2015-16 season with a shoulder injury he sustained last January and had surgery for last March, has averaged 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in the last three seasons at Northern Illinois while playing less than 25 minutes per game last season.
There will be plenty of minutes to spare at the forward position in 2016-17 as Iowa State loses a trio of forwards in Georges Niang, Jameel McKay and Abdel Nader, a group that combined for 44.5 points and 20 rebounds per game.
“I just feel like I can come in and do whatever they ask of me to do,” Bowie said. “Just with my size and my versatility, if they need me to score I know I can score and get to hole and shoot my shot with the best of them. If that’s what they want me to come in and do, I can do that. If it’s a lockdown defender, I can do that. Really whatever they need me to do and whatever they want my role to be, [I'll do].”
Bowie held offers from Marquette and Drake before committing and the likes of TCU, Creighton, Loyola (Chicago) and Nevada were showing interest. In the end, his comfort level with Iowa State — along with his parents’ — helped Bowie come to a quick decision.
Those feelings were cemented on his visit to Ames.
“It was cool, man, I felt comfortable from the start from when I stepped foot on campus,” Bowie said. “One of the big things I took away from the trip was just the environment it is. The players, they really dedicate themselves to being in the gym. You just see Georges Niang, an All-American, come in at 11-something at night to get a workout with one of the assistant — that speaks volumes to let you know what kind of program it is.”
Bowie, who has now been fully cleared to run and lift with his shoulder, remains on schedule to join that program sometime in the next two months. The future Iowa Stater will graduate May 14 and will likely arrive on campus by early June.
When Bowie does finally land at Iowa State, his quest for his first NCAA tournament trip — in his final season — will commence.
“Whatever they tell me we should do, I’m down for it, because they’re the ones who have the experience. They’ve been to the tournament before. I’m trying to get there," Bowie said. "The NCAA tournament is not guaranteed. It just lets you know, man, you’ve got to work hard and nothing is given. Everything is earned."