Boston College men’s basketball point guard Ky Bowman flew under the radar again this spring, just like he did when he was at Havelock High School three years ago.
In fact, months after finishing the 2018-19 season as the country’s leader in minutes per game and the only ACC player to rank inside the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, and assists, the North Carolina native still couldn’t seem to crack mainstream draft boards. Actually, heading into Thursday’s NBA Draft, Bowman couldn’t be found in either The Athletic or SportsIllustrated’s two-round mocks, despite working out for 16 NBA teams the past few months, participating in the NBA Combine, and sparking some legitimate interest from a few organizations.
Round one passed, and round two lingered, as BC fans waited for Bowman to be picked—but that never happened. After the draft, the guard tweeted that he “had the opportunity to be drafted tonight by multiple suitors and turned it down with the ok from my agents …”. According to ESPN’s Jordan Schultz, Bowman didn’t want to commit to a two-way deal and instead decided to bet on himself. And on Friday evening, he got the opportunity he was looking for. Schultz reported that the Golden State Warriors are inking Bowman to a one-year contract.
Bowman may have averaged 39.3 minutes per game this season, but he knows a thing or two about coming off the bench. After all, his collegiate career began with him backing up Ty Graves at the point guard position. Bowman was in out and out of the rotation the first month of the 2016-17 season, as the fiery guard struggled with turnovers and the pace of play. Often a bit too eager to push the ball in transition, he committed six turnovers in his first 26 minutes of action.
Fittingly, though, everything clicked for Bowman on the biggest and brightest stage: Madison Square Garden. After playing just nine minutes in a loss to Hartford, he got the start in the Under Armour Reunion game against Auburn. Bowman made the most of the opportunity, logging 32 minutes and 15 points—both season highs—and playing a big role in the Eagles’ last-second buzzer-beater win over the Tigers. From that point forward, he never looked back.
Bowman, who played the point with a fearless demeanor, improved every game, even exploding for 33 points at Fairfield. He’d eclipse the 30-point mark twice more during his freshman campaign, putting on a show in ACC play. His first-ever conference game was a 96-81 win over Syracuse—BC’s first ACC victory in 666 days. Bowman willed the Eagles into the win column, knocking down 7-of-8 attempts from downtown and clocking out with 33 points.
The All-ACC Freshman’s season also saw him outduel future lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr., pile up 30 points against North Carolina, and establish himself as one of the premier scorers in the ACC—dyed red hair and all. Unfortunately for Bowman, the 2016-17 season ended in agony. He went up for a contested shot amid the first half of the Eagles’ ACC Tournament opener and landed awkwardly on his right leg. While there was no ACL tear, Bowman couldn’t return, and BC’s 9-23 season came to a painful end.
Coupled with Jerome Robinson, Bowman entered his sophomore season making up what head coach Jim Christian called the best backcourt in the ACC. The two guards certainly lived up to the reputation. Throughout the year, Robinson and Bowman—and sharpshooter Jordan Chatman—wreaked havoc on opponents, teaming up to stage some of the program’s biggest upsets to date, most notably a 89-84 win against then-undefeated and No. 1 Duke. Robinson hit the go-ahead 3-pointer over Grayson Allen, but Bowman gave the Eagles a four-point cushion at the charity stripe and walked off the court with 30 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists.
The Eagles showed that they could hang with anyone in 2017-18, especially during the ACC Tournament, where they won back-to-back games for the first time since 2005-06—the year that BC joined the conference. Bowman and the Eagles ultimately bowed out of the ACC Quarterfinals before making their first postseason appearance in seven years. But a loss to Western Kentucky in the opening round of the tournament ended BC’s 19-win season.
[infogram id=”8ec81242-0eba-4624-bd4b-2fc07cee4be1″ prefix=”loN” format=”interactive” title=”Untitled infographic”]
The 2017-18 campaign put the Eagles back on the map, but this past season put Bowman in the spotlight—more so than ever, especially after he tested the NBA waters and his partner in crime, Robinson, was picked 13th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2018 NBA Draft.
With a new look—blonde tips and neon sneakers—Bowman did his best to live up to the lofty and perhaps unreasonable expectations. Over the course of the first 17 games of the season, he tallied 37 or more points on three separate occasions, recording 44 in a loss to Hartford—the sixth-most in single-game program history—and 37 in BC’s upset win over then-No. 11 FSU. Six days after knocking off the Seminoles, the junior hit an improbable off-balanced, game-winning 3-pointer in Winston-Salem, N.C., to beat Wake Forest.
When all was said and done, Bowman finished the season averaging 19.0 points, 7.5 rebounds—both career highs—and 4.0 assists per game. His efficiency, however, dipped, as the junior shot just 40.4 percent from the floor. The decline in field goal percentage directly correlated with the absence of fellow guard Wynston Tabbs. With the freshman—a secondary ball handler who averaged 13.9 points per contest in his 15 games this season—on the court, Bowman shot 46.2 percent, including 40.8 percent from downtown. Without Tabbs, Bowman posted a 35.1 percent clip and connected on just 34.5 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Poor shot selection and a field goal percentage that didn’t rise above 40 percent during the last month of the season certainly hurt Bowman’s draft stock. And there’s no denying his struggles affected his team. BC lost 10 of its final 13 games, including its ACC Tournament opener against conference bottom dweller Pittsburgh, and wrapped up the 2018-19 season with a 14-17 record: a significant step in the wrong direction.
Still, Bowman earned All-ACC Second Team honors and even snagged a vote for ACC Player of the Year. All in all, the explosive playmaking guard racked up 1,661 points, 627 rebounds, and 382 assists during his three-year BC career. He joins NBA veteran Jared Dudley as the only other Eagle to log at least 1,600 points, 600 rebounds, 350 assists, 125 steals, and 30 blocks.
At the end of the 2018-19 season, the question was, and really always has been, what would he be able to do with an elite supporting cast. Now that he’s in the NBA, fans and writers will finally get their answer.
As an undrafted free agent signing, Bowman is once again up against the odds. From 2006-15, just 205 of 300 second-round selections (68.3 percent) played in an NBA game—even fewer undrafted free agents saw the court. The 6-foot-1 guard will have to prove doubters wrong one more time. Only now he’ll have to do it while living out his dream.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Senior Staff
Photos by Keith Carroll / Heights Senior Staff