Coach Speak: Sean McAloon on Anthony Cowan

Maryland secured a commitment from St. John's (Washington, D.C.) junior point guard Anthony Cowan Jan. 26, and following his pledge we spoke to his head coach, Sean McAloon, to gain more insight into the 6-foot, 170-pounder. Check out our question-and-answer session with McAloon below:

Maryland secured a commitment from St. John's (Washington, D.C.) junior point guard Anthony Cowan Jan. 26, and following his pledge we spoke to his head coach, Sean McAloon, to gain more insight into the 6-foot, 170-pounder. Check out our question-and-answer session with McAloon below:

Terrapin Times: Coach McAloon, I know you've only coached Anthony for a couple years after he transferred from Good Counsel (Olney, Md.). Can you just give us a brief rundown of how Anthony's developed since arriving at St. John's his sophomore year?

Sean McAloon: This is my third year at St. John's, and when I first got the job I joined the scramble to try to get Anthony [to St. John's], but he ended up going to Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) for a year and I coaches against him. But the coach that was there, his family was having a baby, and he stepped down. So at that point Anthony's family was looking around for a school, and we were lucky enough to get ahold of him. Which was nice, because Anthony made a decision most kids wouldn't have made, because we had so many guards, especially seniors, and one of them is at Georgetown now. So that speaks volumes about Anthony and how he was willing to work. Then last year [2013-14] he was our sixth man, but was always in the game in crunch time. This year, he's been our catalyst and done a heck of a job.

TT: OK, so what does Anthony specifically bring to the table? What's he going to bring to Maryland?

SM: He just puts pressure on defenses, because he can do a multitude of things. He's not just a kid who is a lightning quick guard. You see a lot of quick guards who can't shoot or don't understand their size; they're just get-in-the-lane type kids, or just passers. Anthony can do everything. He can really put pressure on you by getting in the lane and dumping it off; getting in the lane and kicking it out; getting in the lane and finishing it; and if you go under a ball screen, it's a bad decision, because he can make reads really quickly. And he doesn't always force the action by getting to the rim -- he knock down the pull-up.

He's got every level I've seen, and I think he's going to bring a lot to Maryland. I mean, we do [a lot with him]. Just watching how Maryland plays, I think they'll be able to use him in a lot of different ways.

TT: What do you think Anthony needs to work on to take his game up a notch?

SM:I think like any kid that's going to be a college point guard, you really have to work on your leadership and making your teammates significantly better than what they are. And that requires a lot of vocalization, maybe hurting some feelings of your friends when you're between the lines. I think that's true of a lot of kids, but it's especially true of point guards -- just working on leadership.

TT: I know in my previous conversations with Anthony, he couldn't say enough about Maryland's point guard, Melo Trimble, who he obviously played against and knew on the AAU circuit. Does Melo sort of set an example for Anthony, or give him someone he can emulate when he gets to Maryland?

SM: Oh yeah. I think what Melo is proving is that if you have success in our conference [the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference], and have success at a great rate like Melo did, then it translates to the next level. Just watching Anthony, he can see that what he's doing can translate as well. Melo is a little bit taller than Anthony, but Anthony is probably a little more quicker and athletic. So maybe it's a different way of doing it, but I think Anthony realizes that what he's doing now will translate.

TT: Now, I know Anthony had several good offers on the table, including Georgetown, which he said he was a fan of growing up until the last couple years. So, how did Maryland win him over? Was it just Coach [Dustin] Clark and Coach [Mark] Turgeon winning him over with the freshman year offer and staying with him?

SM: Well, yeah, Maryland did a really good job, but so did Georgetown, so did Miami, so did all the other schools. But I think it was just the perfect storm for Anthony. Some of his family members went to Maryland, he lives pretty much around the corner, and he's not afraid of staying home. I think some of the kids that have stayed home, like Melo and Dion [Wiley], it's making it 'cool' to go to Maryland again. Whereas before, you look at how many point guards were leaving, going to North Carolina, Duke, UConn -- somewhere else. So I think those guys [Trimble, Wiley, etc.] have just made it cool to go to Maryland again.

And it's really the same thing for Georgetown, because that's right in Anthony's backyard too. But I think just Coach Turgeon, his style of play, it's different than Georgetown and Anthony's game might fit a little better [at UMD]. I mean, I don't know exactly why [he chose Maryland over Georgetown], but Anthony just felt it at Maryland, and that's all that matters.

TT: I know Anthony always says he's going to fine playing with Melo or any other point guards Maryland has coming in [Jaylen Brantley]. How do you see him fitting in with Trimble?

SM: Well, if you look at some of Coach Turgeon's teams from when he was back at Wichita State or Texas A&M, some of his most successful teams had two point guards on the floor, sometimes almost three. You're never afraid to put guys on the floor who can make plays. So can he play with Melo? I don't see why not. You can bump either one off the ball, because they both shoot it very well. They can both run a team too, so I don't think [Trimble's presence] deterred Anthony in any way.

And if Anthony has to sit back, that's OK too. I mean, he did that last year at St. John's when he was the sixth man. Anthony's used to it all, but he's such a bulldog, I think he's going to force his way onto the floor.

TT: When did you first know Anthony could be that bulldog, that special player who can play at the highest levels of college basketball?

SM: Certainly when he was a freshman at Good Counsel. He had a pretty good team around him, but he just had such a great feel and was making some plays that you just don't see without years of coaching. How developed he was and the way he was making passes other kids just couldn't make -- at that point I was like, 'This kid is going to be really good.' And now he's much more seasoned, he's stronger, he's grown, and he's changed athletically. But as a freshman, I thought he was just way above his peers in terms of his feel for the game.

TT: Gotcha. And back to Maryland for a second here, what's your relationship like with Coach Turgeon and Coach Clark, and how did that recruiting process go down?

SM: They do a good job. They're not overbearing; they let you do your job as a high school coach. They don't ask you to play a certain way, things like that. They're just sort of really good guys, and it's more like a friendship than a business dealing with them. I think they do it right, which is why you're seeing kids wanting to stay home now.

TT: And just knowing Anthony for a couple years now, he just always comes off like a well-grounded, affable kid. What is he like around his teammates and in the locker room?

SM: They all get along well, and like most kids, Anthony likes to joke around. On the floor he's very serious, but he's very easy to get along with. He's like most teenage boys, but he knows when to turn it on and when to turn it off -- and that goes for the classroom as well. But he has a bunch of real good buddies who support him, as you probably saw on Twitter when a lot of people were congratulating him. But, Anthony, he's just one of the guys. He's not above the other players.

TT: What do you think Anthony's potential is at the next level, Coach? Is he a potential all-conference guy?

SM: I think with Anthony, he's always had the prove-people-wrong attitude. When he came in as an eighth grader at Good Counsel, he worked to start as a freshman even though they had another point guard there. And last year, even when he was sixth man, he was in when the game was on the line. This year, he's the focal point of every team in the conference, and he gets it done night in and night now.

I think he's just such a tough kid mentally, and such a bulldog, that he'll figure out a way to be very productive at Maryland. Now, I don't know what that will entail, whether it'll be all-league or higher, but he's just spent his entire high school career proving people wrong, and I think he'll do the same thing [at UMD].

TT: Last question for you here, Coach. I know coaches hate doing this, but if you could compare Anthony to another point guard, maybe at the college level, who would that be? Just to give folks a visual of how he plays?

SM: I honestly don't spend much time thinking about that stuff unless they really seem like someone I've seen. I mean, I've never had a point guard like Anthony. Last year I had a point guard in Tre Campbell who is now at Georgetown, but they're completely different players, but they're both really good at what they do.

So I can't really think of anyone to compare Anthony to off the top of my head. Maybe he has the speed of like a Ty Lawson when he was at UNC -- he has that extra burst most kids don't have.

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