Playing basketball for Huskies dream come true for Terrace alum Greg Bowman

Greg Bowman
Greg Bowman (Photos courtesy UW Athletics)

You might excuse 2014 Mountlake Terrace High School graduate Greg Bowman if he gets caught, instead of paying attention to game action, looking around Hec Edmundson Pavilion from the bench of the University of Washington Huskies basketball team.
He didn’t necessarily think he would ever be there.

Bowman is in his second year suiting up for Coach Lorenzo Romar and donning the basketball uniform of the UW Huskies. Making the team as a walk-on freshman last year was a dream come true for Bowman; the dream is now continuing into his sophomore year.

“I’ve been a Husky fan my whole life,” Bowman said. “I grew up watching the Huskies; my dad would take me to Husky football games and I think I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to play at the University of Washington but I didn’t know how possible that was. But once I got accepted into their academics, I said I might as well try out and just see what happens — give it a shot — and then I ended up doing well and made the team.”

With no prior scholarship offer to play for the Huskies, Bowman had to impress the team coaches during the summer of 2014 in order to make the basketball squad.

“I emailed Coach (Brad) Jackson, an assistant coach, and he told me to come on by during open gyms during the summer,” Bowman explained. “I just played with the guys during the open gyms, came to a few practices, and I guess it went pretty well because they said, ‘You’re on the team. We think you can help them out.’ I said, ‘Yeah, OK, I’ll come.’”

Bowman didn’t know at the time that those summer workouts would lead directly to an offer to don the purple and gold.
“I was just trying to go in there and play the best that I could, to compete with the guys,” Bowman said. “I really didn’t have any expectations. I just figured to go in there, try to, I don’t know, get a few buckets and just play hard and see what happens. But I really didn’t have any expectations of making the team. I was just hoping for the best.”

“I thought it was just cool being out there and playing with the guys,” he added.

Bowman (center) looks to get past the Grizzlies' Bryden Boehning (left) during a Huskies' 92-62 victory over Montana on Dec. 12. (Photo courtesy of UW Athletics)
Bowman (center) looks to get past the Grizzlies’ Bryden Boehning (left) during a Huskies’ 92-62 victory over Montana on Dec. 12.

Bowman did impress the UW coaches and made the 12-man 2014-2015 roster. He even played in the final minutes of a few games last season, something that surprised Bowman a little considering what he was told by coaches from the onset.

“Last year they told me that, obviously, I wasn’t going to get any playing time as a freshman walk-on,” Bowman admitted. “They told me my role would be to get the guys better in practice, push them, (to be on the) scout team where we run the other teams’ plays that we were about the play, just go hard and make the guys better, make them work in practice — don’t go easy on them. Make it harder in practice then it’s going to be in games.”

Now in his second season with the Huskies, Bowman’s role with the team hasn’t changed much except for a chance at a little more game action.

“This year is a little more the same,” Bowman continued. “They said work with these guys in practice just like last year. But I think the door was kind of left open; if I just keep working then maybe I can see some playing time. But I’m not going to expect that and be mad if I don’t get any. I know my role is to help these guys get better. And if I do get playing time, that’s just another bonus.”

Through the first 10 games of the 2015-2016 season Bowman has played 14 minutes in five games. He scored his first points as a collegian on Nov. 21 in a Husky win over Penn, an experience he called “awesome.”

“I couldn’t believe it was actually happening,” Bowman said of his eight points, going 4-for-4 from the field in the 104-67 Husky rout of the Quakers. “It was like, wow, just looking around and taking it all in — it was crazy.”

Bowman’s chance at scoring for Washington almost didn’t happen as the 6’5” forward nearly walked away from the team at the end of last season. But after a little private deliberation Bowman chose to return to Husky basketball for this year.

“It was such a time commitment that I didn’t know if I wanted to do it,” Bowman said of his feelings for basketball following the 2014-2015 season. “Balancing it with school, it was pretty tough last year. School is pretty important to me; I want to get the best grades I can and graduate with a degree. I thought that basketball was kind of interfering with that.”

“So I actually took a little time off from the team in the spring and just cleared my head and thought about the whole thing. Then I realized, ‘what am I doing? I have the chance to play for Huskies, a Division I team.’ You only get one chance to play college basketball in your life. So I figured I’ve got to do this. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I need to take advantage of it.”

Bowman (right) applies the defensive pressure to Chauncey Collins of TCU during a 92-67 UW win over the Horned Frogs on Dec. 8.
Bowman (right) applies the defensive pressure to Chauncey Collins of TCU during a 92-67 UW win over the Horned Frogs on Dec. 8.

Bowman’s decision to return to the team this year has not only given him the experience of scoring on the college hardwood but to travel overseas on two unforgettable team trips.

Washington opened its 2015-2016 season with a Nov.14 game against the Texas Longhorns in Shanghai, the first regular season, intercollegiate basketball game to ever be played in China. The game was scheduled in an effort to continue building a relationship between the Pac-12 Conference and a basketball-loving country of 1.35 billion people. Bowman and the rest of the Husky basketball team prepared for two weeks before the mid-November trip, learning about Chinese culture and to speak some Mandarin.
“China was incredible,” Bowman recalled. “We were over there for a week.”

“I think the one thing I noticed the most was the skyscrapers in Shanghai — they were huge.” Bowman said. “I think the shortest one was taller than the Columbia Tower in Seattle. So when we came back to Seattle everything looked so small.”

“We got to take this cruise along the river by Shanghai and that was awesome. Seeing the city, we got to circle around and see all of Shanghai. That was cool.”

While the game — a 77-71 win for the Huskies — was played in Shanghai, the team got to travel some in the region. “We stayed in Hangzhou for the first couple of days,” Bowman said. “We saw the company Ali Baba, the commerce company. We met Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba — net worth of $26 billion — we got to shake his hand, so that was cool.”

“We met Yao Ming (7’6” Chinese native and eight-year veteran of the NBA) while we were in China,” Bowman continued. “He’s absolutely massive.”

Ming’s popularity in China is one of the reasons that the sport has developed such a following in that part of the world. “Basketball is really big there. It’s grown so much over the years,” Bowman noted. “I think that’s why they wanted us to come play a game there, just to give people more basketball than what’s already there.”

Less than two weeks following the China trip the Huskies boarded a plane for three games in Nassau, Bahamas, an experience much different that the excursion to the Far East, Bowman said.

“It was like a vacation honestly,” he admitted. “China was more of a cultural experience; but the Bahamas – when we weren’t practicing or playing (games) we would have some down time and we would go to the beach, hang out, swim in the ocean because it was so warm. We would go to the water park and go down some slides, just chill and hang out.”

After 10 games this season, the Huskies’ record stands at 7-3. One more non-conference game remains for Washington (Monday, Dec. 28 at home versus UC Santa Barbara) before they enter their all-important Pac-12 schedule on Jan. 1 when they host UCLA.
Bowman is liking what he sees in the squad at this point of the year. “The team is looking, I think, really good,” he said. “We’ve got young guys, but we’ve got really athletic guys who are just eager to get out there and play college basketball. I think it’s going to be a good year.”

Bowman’s objective for the 2015-2016 season is the same as all his coaches, the team and all Husky fans: to get into the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship tournament.

“I think my one goal for the year is just to see the team make the NCAA tournament,” Bowman proclaimed. “That would be really cool, to be able to take part in the NCAA tournament. That’s something I always watched growing up as a kid. I always said to myself, ‘I want to play in that.’ So if we could get there as a team that would make this year all worth it.”

Bowman has taken to heart the role given to him by his Husky coaches — to set aside any personal ambitions of basketball stardom and help elevate this year’s Husky team and the UW men’s basketball program.

“We need to get back to the tournament and bring Husky basketball back to what it used to be,” Bowman concluded.

— By Doug Petrowski


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