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Anthony Cowan Jr. on what it was like to have the Maryland season cut short

Anthony Cowan Jr. on what it was like to have the Maryland season cut short

Anthony Cowan Jr. and his Terps teammates had just won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title and were practicing for the postseason when their season was cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

And just like that, his college career was over. 

"I mean it was weird," he told Terps football coach Mike Locksley on "Late Night With Locks," the Instagram show that is simulcast on NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page. "I say this to people all the time. It was almost like the Kobe [Bryant] death. It didn’t feel real. It felt like there was no way they could cancel something that was so big and that meant so much to so many people. But on the other hand, I definitely understood and I think this time definitely gave me some time to come to peace with a lot of things."

He learned an important lesson from the disappointing experience after what was an incredible run by the Terps' men's basketball team: To not take anything for granted.

"Nothing is given to you, stuff is earned," he said. "You just have to understand that. Before everything was shut down, we were just practicing and just winning the Big Ten championship a couple of days before, thinking everything is straight, we're going to go out we're going to give it all in our Big Ten tournament. Then to just have everything cut off so quickly, just shows you don’t know everything is going to happen. You just have to be prepared for it. Life takes crazy turns." 

Cowan is now preparing for the NBA draft. He's staying in shape by running hills -- there's a good one near his house, he said. And he's working on skills at his personal gym in Gaithersburg. 

"Just trying to do everything I can," he said. "Just trying to switch it up. Just trying not to get too bored with it, just trying to stay in shape."

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Anthony Cowan Jr. relying on his sister and film to prepare for the NBA Draft during quarantine

Anthony Cowan Jr. relying on his sister and film to prepare for the NBA Draft during quarantine

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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Maryland star Jalen Smith officially declares for 2020 NBA Draft

Maryland star Jalen Smith officially declares for 2020 NBA Draft

In an expected move, Maryland's star forward Jalen Smith has officially declared for the 2020 NBA Draft ending a successful two-year career at College Park. 

The Baltimore native tweeted the news from his own account Tuesday thanking Terp nation for the last two seasons. 

"Thank you to TERP NATION," Smith wrote. "We were 16-1 at home due to your support and energy you guys brought every game. I'll cherish forever celebrating the Big Ten Championship with you. FEAR THE TURTLE.

"I am thankful and grateful for the opportunity to consult with my family and coaches in reaching the decision that the time is right for me to move forward to the next phase in my basketball career and declare for the 2020 draft," he said. 

Smith was a highly productive freshman in 2018-19, but this season he broke out to earn a first-team All-Big Ten selection was third-team AP All American. He averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 53.8% from the floor and 36.8% from three on 2.8 attempts per game. 

Along with senior Anthony Cowan Jr., Smith helped lead the Terps to a 24-7 record and a share of the Big-Ten regular-season title. We'll never know how well the team would've done in the NCAA tournament, since the coronavirus pandemic led to March Madness getting canceled.

There's a lot to be determined before the NBA Draft in June, but as of now, Smith projects as a late-first round pick. However, he could vault into lottery territory if a team falls in love with his rare skill set as a big man. 

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