Bowen following father's path in Division 1 basketball

Ryan Bowen's son Ben to play at WIU Saturday

MACOMB - Ben Bowen grew up around the NBA.
It’s an opportunity that Bowen, the son of former Fort Madison High School and Iowa standout Ryan Bowen, learned to appreciate.
And it’s why Bowen has followed his father’s path into NCAA Division I college basketball.
Bowen, a redshirt freshman, plays at Denver University, and he’ll be playing close to where his father, and his mother Wendy, grew up when the Pioneers play at Western Illinois on Saturday.
Ryan Bowen is in his eighth season as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets, and it’s his 12th season as an NBA assistant. That followed a college career in which he was a four-year starter at Iowa and had a 12-year professional career that included 10 years in the NBA.
Being around professional basketball has helped in the growth of Ben’s career.
“I think I’ve grown up in a way a lot of kids would dream about growing up,” Ben said. “I’m very thankful for the experiences I’ve had. I can’t credit my dad enough — he taught me everything I know (about basketball). And being around this Nuggets organization, in particular, has really helped.
“I’ve appreciated that (Nuggets coach Michael Malone) has let me be around the team. My brother and I have been around on game days, on practice days. You get to see the highest level of basketball played. When you watch it enough, and you’re around it enough, you get to pick up on different things. I’ve been very fortunate, because it’s helped me along in my journey.”
That kind of education has paid off.
“I don’t credit myself as being the fastest guy or the strongest or most athletic guy on a basketball court, but I think I have a pretty good basketball IQ, and I think that’s in part being able to grow up around the game,” Ben said.
Ben, who graduated from Mountain Vista High School in Colorado, took a redshirt season last year at Wyoming. He entered the NCAA’s transfer portal after the season and transferred to Denver. He’s played in all 16 games this season, averaging 2.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game.
“I think I learned a lot last year, playing for (Wyoming coach Jeff) Linder and his staff,” Ben said. “They’re good coaches, and I learned a lot from them, just being able to watch the older guys that I got to watch. Now, this year, I get to put those things to use.”
Playing closer to home helped in his decision to go to Denver.
“That was definitely part of it, for sure,” Ben said. “There’s an academic side, as well. Obviously, DU is a pretty well-respected school. I feel like I want to stay in Colorado and start my life after basketball, whenever that may be. So that education piece was important for me when I was looking at schools after entering the transfer portal.”
Denver is 10-6 this season, 1-2 in the Summit League, heading into a two-game road swing that starts Thursday night in St. Paul, Minn., against St. Thomas.
“We played Denver when I was at Wyoming last year,” Ben said. “ I remember sitting on the bench and saying to one of my roommates, ‘These guys are going to be pretty good in a couple of years. They play really hard.’ I was just fortunate to get into this position and get into contact with them. I’m really happy with how things worked out. It’s been an awesome experience.”
Saturday’s game at Western Hall will have a home-court feel for Ben. His mother grew up in Burlington, so he’s expecting a large contingent from eastern Iowa.
“My grandparents are coming over with a busload of their friends,” Ben said. “My uncle’s coming down from the Quad Cities and is bringing a bunch of people. (Teammate) Tevin Smith (who is from Danville, Ill.) is going to have a bunch of people there, and we’ve been talking about how it’s going to feel like a home game for us.” 
The chance to play for a Division I team is something Ben appreciates.
“It means a lot,” he said. “Because when I was younger — fifth, sixth, seventh grade — I was not the best player on my team, I wasn’t close to being the best player in the state. I was on the back end of things. It’s cool to see the work I’ve put in paying off. Obviously I’m still working hard and I want to accomplish more things in the basketball world. This is only the beginning for me.”
John Bohnenkamp is an award-winning sports reporter and a regular contributor to Pen City Current.
Ben Bowen, Fort Madison, Denver, Ryan Bowen, basketball, John Bohnenkamp, Pen City Current, sports, college, collegiate, Division 1


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