By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Dasonte Bowen is coming off a year in which his life changed dramatically on and off the basketball court.
He has gone from being the star of his high school team in New Hampshire to averaging just 9.3 minutes per game as a freshman reserve guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The same kid that once scored 37 points in a game as a high school sophomore only scored a total of 81 points last season as a Hawkeye.
Bowen showed flashes of the skills that made him a coveted recruit, but he also struggled at times with the physicality of the college game, and he struggled throughout the season with his perimeter shot as he only made 4-of-11 shots from 3-point range while appearing in 26 games.
“Coming from high school the same as a lot of people on my team and around the country, you’re usually the guy when you come,” Bowen said Thursday. “So, when you get to college and it’s a different scene, and maybe you’re not playing as much and not getting as many touches, it’s tough out there because that’s not what you’ve been used to your whole life.
“So, it was definitely a little challenging. But it helped me mentally and I think I’m a lot stronger this year.”
Bowen, a 6-foot-2 native of Boston, Massachusetts was among six Iowa players that met with the media on Thursday at the Iowa practice facility.
The sophomore was joined by transfer forwards Ben Krikke and Evan Brauns, brothers Payton Sandfort and Pryce Sandfort, and senior guard Tony Perkins.
Bowen said his first season as a Hawkeye helped him mature a lot.
It was the first time in his life that he spent more time on the bench than on the floor, and the game was more physical than he expected it to be.
He also was now living half way across the country.
“I mean I expected it (to be physical), but not as much as it was,” Bowen said. “And then now that I’ve experienced it, I don’t think it will be a problem next year.”
Bowen faces a much different situation in the backcourt heading into his sophomore season compared to last season.
He is determined to earn the starting point guard position that became available when last season’s starter, Ahron Ulis, transferred to Nebraska after having started 27 games at point guard last season.
Former guard Connor McCaffery also has moved on after exhausting his eligibility last season, so there are plenty of available minutes in the backcourt and Bowen is hungry for some of those minutes.
“I’m just ready to take that lead guard role,” Bowen said. “I’ve been working this offseason. I’ve gotten bigger, faster and stronger. I’m ready for whatever the next season brings.”
Bowen’s weight is currently listed at 175 pounds, but he looks thicker than when he arrived at Iowa last season.
A year in the rugged Big Ten convinced him that he has to add some muscle to his frame.
“You’ve got to be bigger, and you’ve got to be able to play through a lot, and a lot longer amount of time out there,” Bowen said. “So, that is probably the key focus this offseason, gaining some weight and putting on some muscle.”
Even though he struggled at times last season, Bowen said he has remained confident, and he spoke with confidence on Thursday.
He didn’t make any bold predictions, but he made it clear that he is ready for the challenge after having started just one game last season.
“There’s nothing for me not to be confident about,” Bowen said. “With all the work I’ve put in, and I trust the work that I’ve put in.”
Senior Tony Perkins started all 32 games last season and played both point guard and shooting guard. He was also the team’s third leading scorer and could have even a bigger role on offense this season.
The question is who will start with Perkins in the backcourt, and will it be at point guard or shooting guard?
Perkins said Thursday that he has worked more at point guard during summer practice, but the 6-4 Indianapolis native has started more games for Iowa at shooting guard.
Incoming freshman point guard Brock Harding will also be in the mix for playing time, while sophomore Josh Dix played both point guard and shooting guard last season, although, shooting guard is probably the best fit for the 6-4 Dix.
Bowen was asked Thursday about his competition for playing time, but he declined to comment.
“That’s beyond me,” Bowen said. “I just focus on myself.”
With one season under his belt, Bowen now realizes that there will be peaks and valleys along the way.
He feels beter equipped to handle those peaks and valleys this season.
“Just staying mentally strong,” Bowen said. “Obviously, there were ups and downs during the season last year. And, although, this season might be a lot better, I’m still expecting some ups and downs.
“So, last year helped me to prepare mentally because I think this year, I know what to expect.”
In addition to gaining more strength this offseason, Bowen is also working hard to improve his 3-point shot and he spoke confidently about that process on Thursday.
“With your jump shot, it has a lot to do with confidence and getting more reps and more shots, and that’s something I’m looking forward to this year,” Bowen said. “So, I think my jump shot has come along really well with the confidence I’m building right now.”
And while Bowen is determined to earn a starting position, he also understands the importance of putting the team first.
So, if one of the new players has a question, Bowen will do what he can to help.
“If they’ve got questions, I’ll give them some guidance,” Bowen said. “I don’t try to shine my light on them too much because everyone’s path is different. But if they come to me with a question, I’m always open. So, I’m sure I’ll be helping a lot.”
Bowen has lived in Iowa City for a year now, and he considers that part of his adjustment to be over.
“This is now like my second home,” Bowen said. “I know my way around and I know people out here. I’m definitely used to it by now, for sure.”