Former Mountaineers Find Success

The current West Virginia basketball team is achieving success on the hardwood this year, and a number of former Mountaineers are also finding success on courts all around the world.

There are currently three former WVU players earning a living with their basketball ability. Gale Catlett hasn't turned out an NBA player in his 24 seasons at West Virginia, but a number of his former players have gone on to make a decent sum of money in pro leagues overseas. Right now Damian Owens, Marcus Goree and Calvin Bowman are all playing – and playing well – in foreign lands.

A first-team all-Big East selection last year, Bowman is now a forward for Cibona VIP in Zagreb, Croatia. The 6-9 native of Brooklyn, N.Y., pumped in 848 points in his two seasons at WVU after transferring from San Jacinto J.C.

Though obviously the transition to Croatia must be a tough one, Calvin has certainly adjusted well on the court. He's averaging 14.2 points and 7.1 rebounds a game in leading Cibona to a 23-19 mark against a variety of European competition.

(In the spirit of short-term Notre Dame coach George O'Leary, I don't want to make any deceiving statements. I admit the fact that while these foreign stats are fairly close, they may not be 100 percent. If you have read my columns for any length of time, I'm still struggling with my comprehension of English, to say nothing of my ability to translate Croatian, German, Spanish, French and the other languages employed by the websites I used to cobble together this story. Finding appropriate individual statistics on these basketball websites wasn't nearly as easy as it was to sign up to win lunch the "Cibby The Bear" mascot. By the way, anyone know how to get to the Zagreb Chuckie Cheese? Apparently I've won.)

In comparison to European rookie Bowman, Goree is a veteran of the foreign scene. Marcus spent last year playing for La Havre in France, and he has moved on to the Opel Skyliners in Frankfurt, Germany this season. The 6-8 power forward from Dallas, Texas, scored 1,183 points in his Mountaineer career, which spanned from 1997-2000. He's also second in WVU history in career blocked shots with 157.

Opel (it's owned by the car maker of the same name) is one of the top teams in Germany this season and currently holds a 16-4 record. Marcus is a big reason for the Skyliners' success. He's scored in double figures in every game this season and is averaging 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds a game.

While the foreign leagues certainly don't pay out NBA-type money, both Goree and Bowman are making a solid living.

Playing for the Sta. Lucia Realtors in the Philippine Basketball Association, Damian Owens probably isn't getting quite as much money, but he's proving to be a heck of a bargain.

Owens has led the Realtors to the verge of the Governor's Cup, which goes to the PBA champion. Sta. Lucia took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series on Saturday (Well, at least it was Saturday across the International Date Line in the Pacific, but it was still Friday in the US.) against San Miguel.

"The Realtors were a sight to behold, as Damian Owens led the way in a masterful demolition of San Miguel," stated the official PBA website. "Owens did everything but mop the Big Dome floor after the game."

The 6-5 forward from Seat Pleasant, Md., pumped in 37 points, 15 of which came in the first quarter of the Game Six victory over the Beermen. (You've got to love the foreign mascots.) Owens is displaying the same all-around ability in the Philippines that allowed him to become the only Mountaineer to rank in the top 10 at WVU in career points (1,616), rebounds (868), assists (336), steals (244), blocked shots (116) and field goals (647). He's currently averaging 30.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.7 blocks for Sta. Lucia.

Not everything has gone perfectly for Damian in the Philippines, even though he has been named the "Best Import" in the PBA. Back when he first arrived on the Island in mid-October, Owens was accused of inappropriately touching a woman (who happened to be a Philippine beauty queen) while in a bar. When confronted about the incident by a male companion, Owens allegedly punched the beauty queen's friend. Though the incident originally made a big splash in the Philippines, it was quickly resolved, and Damian went on to great success on the courts rather than in them.

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