Our Congressional Medal of Freedom-winning player profiles series continues its examination of this season's Hoyas. Previous profiles have featured Mikael Hopkins, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Bradley Hayes, Stephen Domingo, and Reggie Cameron.
Aaron Bowen's three years at Georgetown have been characterized by moments of flash and long stretches of uncertainty and near anonymity. As he enters his fourth and perhaps final year on the Hilltop, will Bowen find a consistent role in the Hoya rotation?
Bowen was lightly used in his freshman year, earning clean-up duty in a few non-conference blowouts before, in January 2011 it was announced that he would miss the rest of the season because of a nagging shoulder injury. (It remains unclear whether Bowen has qualified for a redshirt, which would give him another year of eligibility beyond this one. Georgetown's roster lists him as a senior.) That spring, Bowen figured to take a step forward, with the graduation three players ahead of him in the rotation. But the late commitments of Greg Whittington and then Otto Porter suddenly gave Georgetown a surplus of young, rangy wings. Both freshmen proved more polished than Bowen, again relegating the Floridian to clean-up duty (albeit duty sometimes punctuated by emphatic dunks) in one-sided Georgetown wins. Entering last season, Bowen's time seemed to have passed him by without ever having begun.
Last Season's Statistics: 24 games played, 7 min. pg, 1.8 ppg, 1.2 rpg, .3 apg, 37.5 FG%, 21.1 3FG%
For the first half of last season, Bowen generally played much the same role he had in previous years, running the floor with John Caprio and other deep reserves only when the game was no longer in doubt. In these limited minutes, Bowen certainly produced his share of thrills:
On the whole, though, Bowen remained stuck behind Whittington and Porter, two natural small forwards who also happened to be workhorses. Whittington's ineligibility soon opened up 30-plus minutes per game for some combination of Bowen, Jabril Trawick, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, and Stephen Domingo. For a while, it seemed that Bowen would be a beneficiary of Whittington's absence: he played double-figure minutes in each of the first three games without Whittington, and even hit a few three-pointers in wins over St. John's and Providence.
Despite the increased minutes, Bowen largely remained more highlight reel than complete basketball player. He was prone to drifting on defense, missing rotations that were essential to keep the Hoya defense on a string. Even so, JT3 continued to give Bowen run, and, true to form, his most notable contributions also happened to be spectacular. In a huge upset win over eventual national champion Louisville, Bowen converted an outstanding, twisting tip-in that would prove to be the game-winner.
Two games later, in a home win over St. John's, Bowen offered up the following:
A few games after that, Bowen struck again, this time in the closing seconds of a rout of DePaul:
The good news was that Bowen was keeping .gif goddess Hoya Saxual busy. The bad news was that those spectacular baskets were three of six that Bowen recorded during more than 80 minutes of action spanning 15 games. Given the most playing time of his career, Bowen provided little scoring punch for a sometimes struggling offense. He also didn't create opportunities for others, assisting on just one basket during that stretch. While Bowen was an adequate rebounder and was by no means the only Hoya who struggled to score, JT3 eventually turned his attention elsewhere. Over the last seven games leading up to the NCAA Tournament, Thompson allowed Bowen a meager eight minutes of playing time.
Bowen had been given a chance to play but, whether because of lack of production or the coach's preferences, hadn't been able to hold down a role. It seemed that opportunity had once again passed Bowen by, perhaps permanently. But then Porter entered the draft and Whittington suffered a presumably season-ending injury, leaving a hole at the small forward position. For the fourth time in as many years, fate swung once again for Bowen.
Kenner League favors fast, loose play, meaning that guards and high-level athletes often make the best impressions. It was not surprising, then, that Bowen played well over the summer, getting out on the break and finishing in transition. The surprise was how well Bowen played, as some middling early results gave way to several 20-point performances as the summer progressed. His long-distance shooting remained erratic, but Bowen was more assertive cutting and finishing at the rim. While Kenner League glory never guarantees regular season success, Bowen seemed to be making a strong case as the presumptive small forward.
So what can we expect from Bowen this season? A suddenly lethal outside shot probably is out of the question: he has shot just 20 percent from three over his first three seasons, and didn't improve much last year or over the summer. But lineups that also include Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera may not need much more outside shooting, and, with those ball handlers on the floor, Bowen may prove a valuable finisher. He also may complement Reggie Cameron when the latter plays as a small-ball power forward, as Bowen's quickness and athleticism can cover Cameron's deficiencies in that department, while Cameron's shooting can open the floor for Bowen cutting along the baseline and to the rim.
JT3 turns to Bowen as the first Hoya off the bench. Bowen becomes an opportunistic scorer in transition, off back-cuts, and on the offensive glass. He also finally turns his defensive potential into production, applying focus to match his athleticism and quickness. The Hoyas hardly miss a beat on the defensive end with Bowen in the game, and the wing evolves enough offensively to average 20 minutes, 6 points, 4 rebounds, an assist, and a steal per game.
Bowen's jump shot and defense are too loose for the coaching staff's liking. He continues to struggle to find offensive opportunities and fails to provide any defensive reinforcement. His feast-or-famine game leads JT3 to keep him on a short leash, eventually diminishing his role in the rotation. Domingo also struggles, and Cameron proves too slow to guard opposing small forwards. Without a reliable option on the wing, JT3 turns to senior walk-on John Caprio as a stopgap. Bowen ends the season glued to the pine, and transfers for his final season of eligibility, ending his career either in obscurity or as CAA player of the year.
Bowen has had an up-and-down career to date, suffering through injuries, depth-chart battles, and inconsistent playing time. Throughout that time, he has remained an upbeat teammate and, when given the chance, a hard worker. Perseverance has paid off, and Bowen will never have a better opportunity to shine than this season. Shining consistently on both ends of the floor remains his challenge.