There’s only so much Anthony Cowan Jr. can do as he prepares for the biggest evaluation period of his life. The coronavirus pandemic halted an attempt for Cowan to further display his abilities in the NCAA Tournament and prolonged the gap leading to the NBA Combine that was scheduled for late May.
What’s left for the four-year Maryland Terrapin in the meantime is to just work out, watch film and wait for the environment to turn around.
“There’s only so much you can do,” Cowan told NBC Sports Washington as he prepares for the NBA Draft. “Running outside just trying to stay in shape, doing a little ball handling. I actually got a basketball court outside, so [I’m] shooting out there a lot. Just doing anything I can do to stay productive and try to stay ready as much as possible.”
To stay ready for whenever that day will come, the point guard has created a daily routine at his family's home in Bowie, Maryland.
Every morning Cowan goes for a couple-mile run around a lake behind their house. He returns for breakfast before practicing some ballhandling drills in his garage. The court in his backyard allows him to put up shots and work on other drills – either individually or with his sister – and he also has weights in the basement to improve his strength.
Cowan’s sister, Alex, who is a Division I player at Wagner, provides him a luxury that not every other NBA hopeful is fortunate to have while training during this time.
“It’s definitely good, [training] with somebody that is also going through the same thing in terms of being an athlete and not being able to work out as much as you want to,” he said. “It’s definitely good to have a partner. I’ve really been able to work out a lot with her.”
The 6-foot guard knows there are aspects of his game he needs to improve on before the eventual NBA Combine and NBA Draft. NBA teams are clear that if he wants to make it to the Association he needs to be a more consistent shooter and more vocal when on the court.
His last season at Maryland, the 22-year-old was a 39% shooter from the floor and shot 32% from 3-point range. Both would be low figures for his position in the NBA. His game is predicated on his driving ability and getting to the free-throw line. That skill opened space on the floor for him and his teammates. But whenever a big shot needed to be made, it was always Cowan who would take it.
Anyone who watched Cowan in college knows that he was a quiet, lead-by-example type player for the Terrapins. It worked at Maryland, especially when a coach is the primary voice on a team. in college. In the NBA the point guard has a different role as an extension of the coaching staff.
Those aspects can only be improved to a point during social distancing. So, he spends time practicing his interviewing skills and watching film.
“Right now, what I’m big on is watching film and watching a lot of NBA. Just watching players of my similar size and see what they do and how they maneuvered through different things. I think that’s the best I can honestly do right now,” Cowan said.
The shortened NBA season saw 24 players six feet or shorter play out of the 514 who suited up for a game. Cowan knows he has a tall task ahead of him, but sees how his game can translate to the professional ranks.
And it’s not just NBA or bust for Cowan who is working toward a graduate degree in Entrepreneurship Business. Cowan is willing to trust whichever team is going to put trust in him.
“I see a lot of similarities from what I did in college. I see just pros doing it on a higher level," Cowan said. "And that’s just what I want to do and that’s what I want to be able to come into the next level and be able to do. [I’d] definitely change my game however I need to for that specific team, but also be able to bring that same Anthony Cowan that I did in college.”
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