It's important to remember that Brian Bowen II is only 21. So it could take some time for him to improve and show, more consistently, he can have games like Friday when he scored 21 points with 10 rebounds for the Mad Ants in a 108-105 loss to the Texas Legends.
“I was talking to my staff the other day (about this). He would be a sophomore in college. There's going to be some growth, and it's going to be a process with him early on,” said Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey, adding that some early time this season sitting on the Pacers' bench, when they were battling injuries, may have stunted his growth a touch.
Bowen didn't play in 2017-18 because he was embroiled in the college corruption scandal that forced him to transfer from Louisville to South Carolina, though he didn't play for either school.
Last season, he played professional basketball in Australia.
Patience was needed, and Bowen is rewarding the Mad Ants for it. He's averaging 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 shot blocks over seven games with the Mad Ants (1-8), who play host to the defending champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers (2-8) at 7 p.m. today at Memorial Coliseum.
“Yeah, I feel a lot more comfortable,” said Bowen, 6-foot-7. “I think for me, it starts on the defensive end. I just want to lock in on my matchup before the game and really get into the defensive end and try to lock in on that. I want to get to the glass and ... improve and get better every day.”
Defense has been a work in progress for the entire Mad Ants squad, which is off to the worst start in franchise history, and it's something Bowen, who played his prep basketball for La Lumiere in LaPorte, has been working on much.
Offensively, Bowen is getting plenty of opportunities but shooting at a 36.1% clip, though he believes that's bound to improve.
“For sure, I don't care about the scoring part. That's going to come,” Bowen said. “Obviously, these guys are finding me and I'm going to find my spots. Other than that, it's just about locking in on the little things and just going forward from there.”
Bowen is on a two-way contract with the Pacers, who certainly see the potential for him at both ends of the floor.
“He wasn't playing a lot of games (for a bit this season), so that might have set him back a little in terms of the pace,” Gansey said. “But we sat with him pregame (Friday) and showed him some film and told him to let the game come to him. It's about spacing and always being spaced and not always just trying to just cut into areas where there are multiple guys. And just find your shot. I think he's got a good shot.”
Note: The Mad Ants raised $1,325 through the auction of their Grateful Dead jerseys Friday. That money benefits Easter Seals ARC.