Jan. 21, 2014
WASHINGTON - by Bobby Bancroft
WASHINGTON - When looking for ways to describe the path that Georgetown senior forward Aaron Bowen has taken during his time on the Hilltop, hard work and patience immediately come to mind.
When looking for a way to describe some of the things that the Jacksonville, Fla. native is able to do on the court, highlight reel-worthy would be an appropriate description.
Toward the end of the first half in its BIG EAST opener against DePaul on New Year's Eve, Georgetown was a bit flat and, as a result, the Hoyas found themselves facing their largest home deficit of the early season.
After a few made free throws on the offensive end, Coach John Thompson III switched his team back into a 1-2-2 full court press in an effort to turn things around.
Playing an active role at the top of that pressure defense, Bowen picked up two of his career-high three steals as the Hoyas regained the lead and never looked back.
"Coach feels like my energy level is there to put me on the top", Bowen said of his role in the press. "I have to slow down the offense and give us time to get back on defense. I have to have 100 percent energy when I'm out there."
But it was Bowen's quick thinking on offense right before the halftime buzzer that earned him another clip on his ever growing highlight reel.
"I kept hearing D'Vauntes [Smith-Rivera] telling me to shoot the ball," Bowen remembered as he recounted the play during a media session in the McDonough Arena lobby last week.
"I just looked up at the clock on the other basket, saw we had a second left, turned around, threw up a prayer, and it went in."
And just like that Aaron Bowen once again brought the Hoya faithful to their feet with something to get excited about at the Verizon Center.
After appearing in seven of the Hoyas first 11 games during his freshman campaign in the 2010-11 season, Bowen unfortunately would be shelved for the rest of the season following shoulder surgery.
While it's never easy for an athlete to find himself stuck on the sidelines unable to go to battle with his teammates, Bowen made the best of a bad situation by focusing on areas in which he could make himself better once he returned.
"Basically I was just taking that time going over film, getting myself mentally ready for when I got back on the court," Bowen said. "I was going over the offense, the defense - learning the plays. I used my time wisely and stayed with it while rehabbing."
That was the hard work. Soon he would have to add the patience.
After being cleared to return to the court during his second season with the Blue & Gray, Bowen found himself behind future NBA players Hollis Thompson and Otto Porter Jr. Bowen doubled his games played as a sophomore to 14 but had still yet to make a huge impact on the court. That is something that would eventually change in a big way during his third season.
Having already established himself as a key contributor off the bench as a junior, Bowen formally introduced himself to college basketball fans all around the country on January 26, 2013.
Playing against the eventual national champion Louisville Cardinals, Bowen's only made basket proved to be the game winner. The official play-by-play lists the shot as a `tip-in.'
What actually happened is that with everyone else on the court watching a missed shot bounce around the rim, Bowen took it upon himself to run from the three-point line in front of the Hoyas bench to the other side of the rim. Once there he was able to pull off the rare, yet spectacular, reverse tip with the flick of his right wrist.
Bowen - who made his first ever appearance in the post-game press conference that victorious afternoon - humbly brushed off the acrobatic tip-in as him just doing his job and getting a rebound.
Determined to give his teammate a well-deserved turn in the spotlight, classmate Markel Starks stepped in.
"We went into the locker room and I told him I'd never seen anything like that," Starks said moments after grabbing the microphone. "I tell him all the time that he's probably one of the most athletic people on this planet. When the shot went up, he just came out of nowhere and he just, I don't know. It was unbelievable, it was unbelievable."
Leaving Markel Starks speechless isn't an easy feat. But that's just Aaron Bowen. He's got a knack for that kind of thing.
Now in his fourth season with the Hoyas, Bowen is a major piece to the puzzle as Georgetown has started the season 11-4, 3-1 in the BIG EAST.
During the weekend of Jan. 11, AB - as he's often called by Coach Thompson III - was instrumental as the Hoyas picked up a huge 70-67 overtime win in their first ever trip to Butler's historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Bowen set a career-high with 11 points but, again, it was his defense that changed the game. With a depleted bench due to foul trouble, Bowen's two steals in the extra five minute period helped seal the late comeback victory. Just for good measure he turned one of those steals into a patented AB highlight reel slam dunk.
Those are the kinds of plays he brings to this year's Georgetown team. Those are the kinds of plays his coach is counting on him to make. Bowen made that very clear just last week.
"Basically what coach tells me every day is to go out there and make all the hustle plays - get the 50-50 balls," Bowen said about his increased role this season. "That's basically my role. I have to give everything that I have when I'm on the court."
To date Bowen has played in all 18 games this season and even earned his first ever start last month in a win over Florida International. He scored a career-high 13 points in a loss to Seton Hall.
A quick glance at Bowen's statistics show that virtually every one of his season-highs also doubles as a career-high thanks in large part to the increased playing time that he has earned.
His season averages of 5.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.0 steal in nearly 18 minutes of action are all well above his career averages. With all that being said, Bowen realizes that he has room to improve.
"I haven't been hitting my three-pointers," Bowen said. "I need to keep getting those shots up in practice and the results will improve. I get more comfortable as I see the ball go in."
When asked if he can notice the effect some of his dramatic plays have on the home fans at Verizon, Bowen laughed a bit before giving an honest reply.
"I'm aware of that but I'm just out there playing and it's great that those plays show up but I'm just playing hard."
Bowen and the rest of the Hoyas are back in action this weekend, visiting new BIG EAST Conference member Creighton. Tip-off at CenturyLink Center in Omaha is slated for 8 p.m. and the game will be shown live on Fox Sports 1. It can be heard locally on Sports Talk 570 AM.