LARAMIE – Growing up in Colorado, Ben Bowen has long had a first-hand view of a few of his new University of Wyoming teammates.
Sophomore Kenny Foster and Graham Ike are both from Aurora, Colorado, about 30 minutes south from where Bowen grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Foster and Ike are both a few years older than Bowen. So, when Bowen was a little-known sophomore guard at Mountain Vista High, Foster and Ike were among the top players in the entire state.
Now that Bowen, a freshman guard at UW, is teammates with the pair of Colorado high school legends? Well, it’s a pretty surreal experience.
“It’s really cool to now be able to play with guys that I looked up to,” Bowen said. “They were ‘the guy’ in Colorado.”
Bowen is the son of 10-year NBA veteran Ryan Bowen. The younger Bowen has heard it all before – he’s only on a given team because of his father, etc. – but he has had to earn every opportunity he’s gotten. That didn’t stop people from talking, though.
“When I was younger it would bother me,’” Bowen said. “You just learn to not let those things bother you.”
Bowen spent much of his prep career as an afterthought, admitting that he was often not even the best player on his own teams. It never prevented Bowen from working to be as good as he could possibly be, though.
“I’ve always been someone who, I have to work my way up,” Bowen said. “It’s just about how hard I’m willing to work.”
Bowen averaged 20.2 points per game as a high school senior and was named first team all-state. He committed to UW before his senior campaign even started. UW coach Jeff Linder, previously the head coach at Northern Colorado, had recruited him before he was even a varsity player, Bowen said.
The mentality of Linder’s program – one of hard work and development – fit Bowen perfectly. It’s everything his own basketball journey has been.
“That’s the beauty of Coach Linder’s program. He knows how to develop players so well,” Bowen said.
While he’s been on campus for more than a month now, the college game hasn’t been the easiest of transitions. The speed of the game, the size and skill of each player on the court, it’s all a lot to take in as a teenager. There’s also the fact that, for the first time in his life, Bowen’s father isn’t the one giving him the majority of his coaching.
Even when he was playing high school basketball, Bowen could go home and ask his father anything. That’s not as easily accessible any longer.
“The majority of things I’ve learned have come from him,” Bowen said. “It’s definitely been an adjustment not having him here … (but) I can still call him.”
Bowen knows it’s not going to be easy for him to get the hang of college basketball. He’s prepared for whatever his role may be in 2021-22, whether it means he’s playing 30 minutes per night or keeping a seat warm on the sidelines.
“I just want to do whatever I can do win … if that means sitting on the bench the entire season as a redshirt freshman … that’s OK,” Bowen said. ”If I get in there, I’m going to do whatever I can to win.”