By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Dasonte Bowen hadn’t heard of former Iowa point guard Ronnie Lester before meeting with the media on Tuesday at the Iowa practice facility.
Bowen knew about former Hawkeye point guard B.J. Armstrong, and even met him once during a visit to Iowa City. But when asked about Lester’s career as a Hawkeye, Bowen said that someone had just mentioned his name a few minutes earlier, but that was the extent of it.
When told that Lester was arguably the best point guard in the history of the Iowa program, and that he was the last point guard to lead Iowa to the NCAA Final Four in 1980, Bowen smiled and said that he looked forward to learning about Lester.
And learn about him he will because Bowen takes his new role as an Iowa point guard very seriously.
The incoming freshmen picked Iowa over a host of scholarship offers for several reasons, including Fran McCaffery’s fast-paced offense.
“That was a big factor,” Bowen said. “All my visits here, coach Fran would put up my highlights to show how I like to push the tempo and how they like to play. I think that played a large part in me coming here seeing how I fit into the system.”
And while lots of recruits have mentioned Fran McCaffery’s up tempo system as one of the reasons for picking Iowa, Bowen apparently took it to a different level.
He studied Iowa’s style of play very closely and saw how he would fit as a point guard.
It wasn’t just a case of Bowen thinking that Iowa likes to play fast and so does he.
It was Iowa’s approach to playing fast that impressed Bowen.
And it was Bowen’s meticulous approach to studying Iowa’s system that impressed Fran McCaffery during the recruiting process.
“I think he was a guy that studied it probably a little more intently than some do,” Fran McCaffery said. “Some just say, ‘hey they play fast. They’re not playing 53-51 games. I want to be where we’re up tempo. They don’t study the specifics of it where I think he did.
“And even on his visit, we went through some stuff and kind of showed him what we do, how we do it and why we do it that way, and why he’s a fit.”
The fact that Iowa has to replace its top two point guards from last season also stood out to Bowen because he has a chance to contribute immediately.
Bowen picked Iowa over scholarship offers from schools that include Boston College, Georgetown, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Seton Hall, Rutgers and Miami (Fla.) among others.
He grew up in Boston, Massachusetts attended prep school in New Hampshire and had multiple scholarship offers from schools on the East Coast.
But in addition to liking Iowa’s style of play, Bowen also has a close relationship with Iowa assistant coach Courtney Eldridge, who is also from Boston.
And when it came time to pick his school, Bowen felt that Iowa was his best choice.
Bowen was asked to describe his style of play on Tuesday.
He paused briefly before saying:
“I’m fiery and I’m an athletic player. I like to get down hill and get to the basket. But I can also shoot the ball.
“I’m an all-around point guard and I like to get my teammates involved. I’m a floor general, for sure.”
The 6-foot-3 Bowen is one of two incoming freshmen guards on scholarship, the other being 6-4 shooting guard Josh Nix, who is from Council Bluffs.
Dix still is recovering from a broken tibia and broken fibula that he suffered in late January when he landed awkwardly with less than 2 minutes to play in a game against LeMars.
He had surgery two days after the injury occurred and has since made steady progress to where he thinks he could play this coming season.
“Yeah. I think should be able to play with the track I’m on,” Dix said. “But I haven’t been told anything recently.”
Dix said he recently started working out with the team and is particiapting in everything expect contact drills.
“So when they go up and down, I can’t do that,” Dix said. “But non-contact stuff, I’ve been doing all of that.”
Dix said he still has good days and bad days, but his progress has been encouraging to Fran McCaffery.
“I expect him to be ready to go September one,” Fran McCaffery said. “So when that happens, he’ll be full go and then we’ll see what happens.
“But right now, he’s I think in a real good place physically. He’s pushed himself about as hard as he should have, and not too hard so there’s no setbacks.”
As for Bowen, he watched Iowa play last season after having signed with the Hawkeyes, but was far from just being a casual observer.
“He watched us play I think with a different level of understanding last year,” Fran McCaffery said. “He didn’t just turn the game on as a fan and say, ‘hey, I’m going to play there next year.’
“Okay, what are they running? What are they trying to do here? And then we would have those types of conversations on the telephone after watching us play. What did you see? What did you think? Because pretty soon he’s going to have to be out there thinking for himself.”
Iowa has to replace both Jordan Bohannon and Joe Toussaint at point guard. Bohannon was a multi-year starter and is the Big Ten’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals, while Toussaint started the first 21 games at point guard last season, but has since transferred to West Virginia with the hope of playing a more prominent role.
Bowen and junior Ahron Ulis will compete for the starting point guard position.
Junior Tony Perkins and sixth-year senior Connor McCaffery, who is Fran McCaffery’s son, also could play point guard if needed.
Fran McCaffery was asked Tuesday to update the competition at point guard.
“I think about as you would expect it to be,” he said. “Ahron Ulis is in his third year and playing real well. Dasonte Bowen is a terrific player. They’re competing every day, and we have other options.
“Obviously, we have Tony Perkins who can play the one. Connor can play the one. So, we do have a lot of ways that we can go. And the other thing is, those guys can all play together.”