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Senior Week Highlight Reel: Aaron Bowen

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The Hoyas' own human highlight reel has had a college career full of sensational plays tailor-made for the SportsCenter Top 10.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

This post could go on for days. Or weeks. Or possibly even months. Aaron Bowen is responsible for more impressive, acrobatic, gravity-defying plays than the rest of the roster combined. He has also turned into a reliable defender and 6th man capable of single-handedly changing the flow of the game in Georgetown's favor.

His career on the Hilltop didn't start out that way. After a shoulder injury led to red-shirting his freshman year, Bowen was relegated to putting on a show at Midnight Madness and playing in garbage time against over-matched opponents. For awhile, he was an afterthought on the Hoyas' bench. This unexpected (and horrifically grainy) Caprio-Bowen alley-oop instantly became legendary.

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His emergence as an energetic role player who could bring fire to a game was a welcome development for fans during the 2012-2013 season. Against the #5 Louisville Cardinals, Bowen's soaring putback provided the winning points to propel the Hoyas past their second consecutive ranked opponent.

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A couple of weeks later against St. John's he performed a mirror image of the same stunt, bounding out of nowhere as if time had stopped on the basketball court. Check out D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's reaction.

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Unfortunately, for all of the highlights, Bowen's sophomore year was erratic. Every spectacular move he made was countered by some miscue, like running over a teammate or habitually failing to rotate on defense. If JTIII had hair on his head, he would have been tempted to pull it out. AirBow earned very few minutes in the latter half of the season. Junior year, he settled down. The fantastic energy of his game was not lost. It was just a hell of a lot more useful when combined with better control to avoid silly turnovers.

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Everyone's favorite spark plug was growing up. Over the past two seasons, he traded in (most of) the unreliable behavior for a more mature brand of basketball...without sacrificing his flair for the aerobatic. He has been rewarded with significantly increased minutes; fans have been treated to more of his supernaturally bouncy exploits. The fact that his likelihood of making a shot decreases dramatically when he is standing still (oh, those free throws...) and/or has both feet firmly on the ground continues to defy the odds.

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Even though he has finally learned that sometimes a layup is a better choice, the exclamation point slam is now and forever Bowen's hallmark. It's even better when that end-of-game breakaway dunk is the winning basket in overtime, as it was against Butler in that infamous game of early 2014 where everybody fouled out and John Caprio was recruited to play Center.

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He's even a mischievous influence on his teammates, inspiring the cerebral and well-behaved Markel Starks to lob it up in the first half of the home game against Xavier last season.

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The ability to move deftly around the court is an asset on defense as well. Doug McDermott could not handle his quick change of position that allowed for this tip and steal. It is a strong testament to Bowen's balance and athleticism that he managed not to fall, travel or turn it back over as he corralled the ball.

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Aaron Bowen has become both versatile and dependable, but he'll always retain the innate ability to make any basketball play look fancy. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see him levitate. Even the most mundane move, like preventing a ball from going out of bounds, is executed as if he has an eye on extra style points. At Butler last year he saved this ball THROUGH HIS LEGS and was still the first one down the other end to help finish the play. Watching him streak across the court can feel like witnessing time travel.

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The freshmen this year are outstanding. They are more reliable than they have any right to be (and I'm thrilled about this, by the way). However, they are still freshmen and will occasionally behave as such. When that happens, JTIII is going to make adjustments in the lineup to throw off the other team. As a senior, Bowen has become that disruptive force in the best way possible. Active defense can generate steals to rattle opponents and his superhuman acceleration to the rim fires up the offense.

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Of course, when the team is already up by double-digits, the temptation to show off some skills can be overwhelming. This dunk against Radford involved not only a full 360 rotation but a blind takeoff where he left the floor with his back to the basket. Because he can. Wouldn't you?

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Looking back at the pre-season profiles, Bowen is the rare player whose play has approached the delusional end of those expectations. It has been an impressive transition for the young man. So even though dangling from the basket is generally frowned upon (by old, boring, referee-like people), sometimes you just gotta be in the moment. Watching him drive home the alley-oop then survey the arena while swinging fully around the rim on one arm, rodeo-style, you get the feeling that he's been wanting to do that for awhile. He earned it. He also earned a patented Jabril Trawick congratulatory blow to the head.

Maybe it's for the best that this is his final season, because it seems like we are almost running out of fresh superlatives to describe these performances.

Almost.

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Author's Note: AirBow certainly has kept me busy, but he is the senior I will miss most.