NBA Draft: Anthony Cowan Jr. is ready for the next challenge

Anthony Cowan Jr. is past thinking about the abrupt ending of his college career and is ready to turn heads at the NBA level.

Prince George’s County native Anthony Cowan Jr. is done thinking about what could’ve been for the Big Ten Champs and 12th-ranked Maryland Terrapins. Instead, he’s focused on being the next kid from the DMV drafted into the NBA.

The 22-year-old senior point guard from Washington D.C. ended his college career with a season for the rafters. Cowan led the team in minutes played, points, assists and steals, broke the school record with 130 consecutive starts, was a Wooden Watch candidate in the month of February, and finished a First-Team All-Big Ten selection. On senior night, Cowan and the Terps earned a share of the Big Ten regular season title and were heading into late March with a full head of steam.

“I really believe we were destined to do something special, in terms of work ethic, culture and chemistry,” Cowan said. “You know when you have those three things put together it’s kind of almost written that you’re going to have some type of success.”

But with the unlikely events of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, canceling both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, Cowan and his teammates felt an emptiness inside. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

“It was definitely a moment that didn’t feel real,” Cowan said. “It didn’t seem real that it would end like this.”

However, after having time to let everything sink in, Cowan is nothing but grateful for every second spent in College Park.

“Just like everything in life, stuff comes to an end,” Cowan said. “This time away has allowed me to come to peace with a lot of things, and knowing we went out on top makes me okay with it all.”

Cowan’s last performance in a Maryland Terrapin uniform is one that the storied program will remember forever.

With a few seconds left in the Terrapins last regular season game, a home win on Senior Night against the Michigan Wolverines to clinch a share of the Big Ten title, Cowan received a loud standing ovation as he got subbed out by Coach Mark Turgeon, and the two embraced with a long, iconic hug, ultimately marking the end of their incredible journey together.

“That was such a special moment,” Cowan said. “Coach Turg and I have a great relationship. We’ve had so many ups and downs, but Coach believed in me and saw something in me when nobody else did, and for my career to finish the way it did with the hug on Senior Night, it all came back full circle.”

While the coronavirus has both affected and delayed the 2020 NBA Draft Process, it hasn’t been able to get Anthony Cowan out of the gym. Being from Point Guard County, you learn early on that there’s no such thing as “off-time”.

“Playing in the DMV was always a blessing,” Cowan said. “It wasn’t easy playing against a McDonald’s All American every night, but it pushed me to be my best, compete and tirelessly work on my game. I was never able to take an off night.”

Cowan is using this time to do what he does best, catch his competition off guard.

“I got a private gym in Gaithersburg, I’m doing training boxing workouts, running outside and doing some hill work,” Cowan said, “One thing about me is that I’m always sticking to a routine. It’s super easy now to sit around and do nothing, but in my case, someone fighting to get to the next level, I don’t have any time to rest. The virus hasn’t affected my preparation at all.”

Additionally, while prospects remain unsure of when they’ll be able to interview and work out for teams, Cowan remains calm and ready for whenever that time may come. Cowan is seasoned in this process, as he tested the draft waters after last season before pulling his name out.

“Last year’s process was a great experience, it allowed me to get out of the college scene, and see what it’s like to be a pro,” Cowan said. “Seeing the facilities, talking to front offices, it was a very helpful process.”

This time around, Cowan is all in, signing exclusively with Daniel Hazan of Hazan Sports Management.

“We are very excited for Anthony,” Hazan said. “At the end of the day, he represents what we look for in athletes. He’s physically tough, he started all four years and never missed a game, and mentally tough as well. When you’re trying to make it to the NBA it requires a lot of mental toughness, and I think that is what separates Anthony from a lot of other guys.”

When examining Cowan’s skillset, don’t let his 6’0″, 180 lbs. frame fool you. With his tight handle on the ball and explosive first step, Cowan excels at getting to the hoop and drawing fouls. Cowan led the Big Ten in free throw attempts per game, 6.8, free throws made, 172, and made them at an 81.1 percent clip, tied for third in the conference.

“Getting to the line is such an important part of my game,” Cowan said. “Every little guard needs that ability in his game because sometimes it’s a little harder for us to score.”

Being a smaller, explosive guard, Cowan enters the NBA conversation at an interesting time where the league is getting even smaller. Teams are getting more creative, young groups like the Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers have opted into two-point guard lineups, or like the Oklahoma City Thunder who have a three-guard set. Additionally, the league has been much more accepting of four-year college guards recently, with guys like Devonte’ Graham, Fred VanVleet and Monte Morris carving out big roles for their NBA teams.

“It’s really good to notice those guys doing their thing because in a lot of years there weren’t a lot of small guards making a huge impact,” Cowan said. “Nowadays though you see small guards having big impacts with lots of teams playing the two-guard front, with two small guards who can really score and make plays. I really think I’m coming in at the right time, being a guy that can come into the game, make an impact, be a playmaker, score the ball, and just be productive from the start and be a spark to my team. Guys like Devonte’, VanVleet, D.J. Augustin and Ish Smith are exactly who I see my game transitioning into at the next level.”

While Cowan’s stats speak for themselves, he wouldn’t say that the boxscore shows his entire worth.

“I’m a winner,” Cowan said. “I’ve won at every level, and I’ve always tried to be the guy to leave a place better than I was when I first got there. I am someone that will come into any situation playing my role and doing whatever I can to make my team win.”

‘Anthony’s a winner,” Hazan said. “A guy who down the stretch will always take and make the last shot no matter how he played during that game. There is nothing better than working with a guy who is going to war for himself and his teammates, while also trying to accomplish his dreams.”