This article appears in the Jan/Feb 2005 edition of SchoolSports magazine.
The more you get to know Dior Lowhorn, the more you realize you're better off collecting all the superficial details of his public life and throwing them in the trash.
No doubt, the Berkeley senior forward is every bit the player his stats and accolades say he is. But that beauty is only skin deep. The real magic of young Mr. Lowhorn — who is rated the nation's No. 55 hoop recruit in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com — is about the parts that make up the whole.
Lowhorn was the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League Player of the Year as a junior and has signed to play his college basketball for Bobby Knight at Texas Tech. He can carry on a conversation in four languages — yes, you read that correctly and no, we're not counting Spanglish or Pig Latin — consisting of Mandarin, Italian and American Sign Language in addition to English. And after the first grading period of this academic year, Lowhorn pretty much defined student-athlete with a 3.4 GPA.
But it's the way he'd like to be remembered as a high school player that tells you all you need to know about the Yellow Jackets' 6-foot-7, 225-pound leading man.
"I'd definitely like people to say, ‘He was the most hard-working player I ever saw,'" says Lowhorn, who averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds per game last year for a 24-4 Berkeley squad that reached the NorCal Division I semifinals. "I'd like people to remember me as someone who never got outworked on the court.
I strive to be the smartest, most fundamental and most relentless player on the floor. Those aren't the same thing, but for me, they're the same realm."
Deep down, Lowhorn admits he's played most of his career with a chip on his shoulder. Labeled a 'tweener throughout his early teens, he made it his mission to prove he could both bang with the big boys and hang with the small guys.
It's an attitude that's clearly responsible for the edge in his game, but it's also how he earned his nickname: Robocop. Lowhorn tirelessly works to improve his versatility, logging hour upon hour in the weight room to advance his inside game and sweating through merciless hardwood workouts to fine-tune his perimeter game.
Call him a 'tweener. Call him whatever you want. But he's going to bang and finesse and 'tween you into submission.
"I'm a guy that's built the skills to defeat the odds," says Lowhorn, who believes he can play either forward spot at the next level. "I've always been motivated by the perception that I couldn't match up with prototype power forwards and still be effective against them. Well, my dad is old school, and he drilled into me that you don't take any days off and you don't take any plays off. I've got a little Charles Barkley in me, I think."
That is precisely why Bobby Knight is so fond of him and why Lowhorn isn't the slightest bit insecure about playing for the famed disciplinarian.
"[Coach Knight] only looks for a certain type of player and only takes a certain type of player," says Lowhorn, who attended International Studies Academy as a freshman and Archbishop Riordan as a sophomore before transferring to Berkeley last year. "If he chooses me, I don't have to worry about whether I fit his old-school style because we already know I do. I wanted to go to a place where a coach is going to push me. It was about a perfect match."
A Bobby Knight player is, if nothing else, a good listener. And Lowhorn proved he could listen as a 15-year-old when Leon Powe, then an Oakland Tech senior and now a sophomore at Cal, attended one of Lowhorn's games at Riordan. Afterwards in the locker room, Powe ducked in and told it like it was.
"He told me I had to rebound better," recalls Lowhorn, who will turn 18 on April 15. "He said he wasn't telling me because I was bad at it, he was telling me because I could be great at it. That really stuck with me."
Listening skills are nice. But there's a lot to like about Lowhorn's game, too.
"He's a real hungry player," says Berkeley fifth-year head coach Mike Gragnani, 43. "He's extremely physical and gifted around the basket. He's got a very competitive nature. He's gonna figure out a way to help us out, no matter what. If his mid-range game isn't clicking, he'll go get offensive rebounds, he'll get to the line. He will find a way to help get us a win."
That's because Lowhorn keeps his eyes on the prize and off the stat sheet.
"Some people look at your numbers, but if your effort didn't help produce a win, that stuff is meaningless," says Lowhorn, who owns career highs of 48 points and 22 rebounds, both as a sophomore. "Maybe you only had 19 and people will say that's not that many points. Well, maybe you got all 19 in the fourth quarter or maybe you got that clutch rebound or made that key stop or box out or took that charge that turned the game around. It's really, truly not about the numbers."
Of course, Lowhorn — a first team All-City selection as a freshman and first team All-League pick as a sophomore — is plenty willing and able to take over a game if necessary.
At last summer's Reebok Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas during a game against Team Fort Worth, Lowhorn was getting heckled by a partisan Texas crowd as he played the opposing 6-foot-9 big man about even. Lowhorn was then victimized by a flagrant foul and sustained a wrist injury that kept him on the floor for several minutes.
When Lowhorn got up, he woke up, dropping 38 points on the bad guys. It was the seventh-highest single-game scoring total of the 2004 tournament.
Still, what's most exciting about Lowhorn's game as he plows through his senior year is his clear understanding that he doesn't have to score 38 every night. And that he won't be expected to at Texas Tech, either.
"The difference with Dior now is he's focused on making the players around him better," says Gragnani. "He realizes teams are going to throw two and three guys at him every night and that he has to get his teammates going to win the game. That maturity — the fact he's figured that out — may be the biggest thing he's got going for him right now."