DUBLIN — West Bladen High brought two cakes to the table Thursday when senior John Bowen inked his intentions to play his college career at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont.
The announcement came after a lengthy process of weeding out numerous calls from coaches stretching far and wide.
“I talked with more coaches about John than I have all the recruits we’ve had since I’ve been here combined,” said West Bladen basketball coach Travis Pait. “I’m not exaggerating when I say I probably had 15o calls about John.”
Bowen, a 6-foot, 8-inch, forward, averaged 16.4 points per game and led the Knights to an 18-10 record his senior season.
As the process moved forward, Bowen received a total of seven offers — including Elizabeth State, Fayetteville State, Georgia Court (N.J.), Chowan University, Grambling State and Mississippi Valley State — before he finally settled on Belmont Abbey, a Catholic liberal arts institution founded in 1876 by Benedictine monks. Bowen plans to major in physical therapy.
“I felt real welcomed there, and I liked the campus and coaching staff,” Bowen said. “Plus, I have two AAU teammates who play there, so that will make it easier.”
Pait said he thinks Belmont Abbey is getting a steal.
“They like how he shoots from the outside and can handle the ball,” he said. “But most of all, he will be a zero maintenance student-athlete. He’s a top five student here; just a good kid with a great family.
“I think in three years they (Belmont Abbey) will say ‘wow, we really have a good one,’” he added.
Bowen’s parents are thrilled with their son’s choice.
“We’re just very proud of him — he’s worked so hard,” his mother Pam said. “They have a good academic and athletic program there and it’s not terribly far away.”
Pait said he thinks Bowen will see plenty of playing time if he continues to put in the effort.
“He needs to start filling out and getting stronger,” he said. “But skills wise, he’s off the charts.”
“I’ve got to work on my defense and conditioning, too,” added Bowen, who also said he is appreciative of all that West Bladen and the coaches have done “to help me prepare on and off the court.”
The Crusaders finished the 2016-17 season at 14-15 overall and 10-10 in the NCAA Div. II Carolinas Conference.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.