Before Boston College guard Ky Bowman began the NBA predraft process for the second consecutive year, Eagles coach Jim Christian had some advice for him that had nothing to do with jump shots.
“He just wants me to not get stressed out by it all,” Bowman said. “He’s seen me get stressed out before, so he knows what it’s like when I’m stressed. He understands just me being myself is what’s going to help me best.”
Christian saw Bowman’s talent up close for the last three years. He saw the physical play of a guard who was once offered a football scholarship by Alabama. He saw him register 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists in a win over Duke as a sophomore. He saw all of it, and he knew that would translate.
“I just think be who you are, and everything you want to show will come out,” Christian said. “Your work ethic comes out, what type of player you are comes out, and the type of player that you want to be.
“I try to tell him, ‘You’ve just got to be Ky, because Ky is a great story and a great person, so don’t try to be somebody you’re not.’ ”
Following the 2017-18 season, Bowman declared for the draft along with teammate Jerome Robinson. While Robinson vaulted up draft boards and was ultimately selected 13th overall by the Clippers, it became clear to Bowman after a few workouts that another season in Chestnut Hill would serve him well.
The Eagles were coming off a 19-16 season, and Bowman would have a chance to lead the team with Robinson gone. But BC dealt with several injuries during the year and finished just 14-17. And Bowman’s statistics were mostly unchanged.
After averaging 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists while making 42.2 percent of his shots as a sophomore, he averaged 19 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4 assists on 40.4 percent shooting this past season.
But he said there was great value in returning to school. Last spring, he completed five workouts with NBA teams, and he received important feedback about what to work on, such as his decision-making on ball screens, his 3-point shooting, and his tendency to pursue highlight-reel plays when a simpler one would be wiser.
This year Bowman’s 3-point accuracy increased from 36.2 to 37.4 percent on a slightly higher volume, and his turnover percentage dipped from 16.2 to 13.9.
“Some guys are afraid to be real with themselves,” Christian said. “They hide behind some of their flaws in their game. But I think Ky attacks those things, and that’s what’s made him a good player. I think he’d be the first person to tell you he grew in some areas and probably would have liked to have grown in others. That’s part of the process, though.”
Bowman was not invited to the NBA Combine last season, but this year he was, an indication that NBA teams are more intrigued this time around. But it appears that Bowman still has a long road ahead. He does not appear in the latest ESPN.com mock draft, and the site lists him as the 85th best prospect in this class.
Bowman did not thrive in the testing portion of the NBA Combine in Chicago last week, mostly finishing in the bottom half of speed and agility drills. He placed 11th among 25 guards in the shuttle run, 15th in the three-quarter-court sprint, 18th in the lane agility drill, and 23rd in max vertical leap.
During the combine, Bowman had individual interviews with the Heat and Warriors. He also has had private workouts with the Hawks, Nets, and Timberwolves, and will have more as the June 20 draft approaches.
Robinson, Bowman’s former BC teammate, could provide at least a bit of a road map. Although Robinson was a lottery pick last June, he spent much of this season playing for the Clippers’ G-League affiliate. If Bowman ends up being drafted in the second round, or latches onto a team on a two-way G-League contract, most of his first season will likely be spent in the minor leagues, too.
“[Robinson] said you’ve just got to stick with it and stay positive,” Bowman said. “So that’s the big thing. A lot of times people could get down on themselves, but positivity is really important. That and just being myself.”