To get an introduction to Julian Bowie’s game, just talk to the guy. Pocatello’s star sophomore guard may be a quiet kid, but he chooses his words carefully, an effective and efficient approach that belies his young age. He might not answer your question with a long-winded monologue, but you think about what he just said, and it hits you.
Wait, that was really thoughtful.
“I’ve been getting my shot right,” Bowie says, rocking dress clothes before the Thunder’s season-opener Wednesday night. “Everything else will come to me.”
It all bears a striking resemblance to the way Bowie plays, how he’s following a promising freshman campaign with a sophomore season that already looks even better. Pocatello’s leading scorer last season with 16 points per game, Bowie plays with a certain easiness, a smooth playmaking ability that allows him to score in ways that don’t always register until you tally them up.
Fast break layup here. Double-clutch finish there. A putback, two free throws, a deep triple from the left side. He makes it look so routine, so ordinary. Then you add up all his points, and bam, he’s already posted 19 in the first half alone against Canyon Ridge.
It feels like he could have done even more if he really wanted to — like out of the kindness of his heart, he reined things in a tad — which speaks to the sophomore’s otherworldly talent.
“He shoots the ball really well. He’s got range. Shoots deep,” Pocatello coach Joe Green said. “We want to get to the rim more. He’s been working more on that. He can really shoot it, and he sees the floor really well. Just a really good player.”
With that sentence, Green might win an award for understatement of the year. Bowie — a sophomore — holds offers from Idaho State, Boise State and Utah State. That’s the kind of attention you get when, as a freshman, you follow a 29-point outing with a 35-piece, and follow that with a 22-ball against Highland. Bowie also stands 6-foot-1 (the team roster generously lists him at 6-foot-3), which gives him a height advantage against a lot of guards in southeast Idaho.
On Wednesday night against Canyon Ridge, Bowie totaled 25 points.
He showed off his quickness, getting to the rim in the final seconds of the first half, as well as his range, cashing two triples. That’s the other thing about his game: He can do most everything on offense, and he never looks like he’s breaking a sweat.
“He’s a knock-down,” senior Ryan Payne said. “He’s my go-to.”
Bowie is the go-to. That’s why he’s so important to the Thunder, who are trying to outdo their finish last year, a loss to Preston in the 4A District 5 title game. Nobody in the navy and red likes chatting about that one — “Poorly” is how Payne describes the way the season ended — but it bears revisiting because a freshman Bowie played such an instrumental part in helping the club get there.
The question for this season: How can the Thunder advance to the 4A state tournament? District play won’t start until January, but the three-team conference looks strong again. Preston is off to a 2-0 start. Six-foot-5 freshman Isiah Harwell and Century avenged a season-opening loss with a blowout win over Bonneville Wednesday night.
In other words, Bowie and Pocatello’s cadre of five seniors are ready to outpace last season’s district runner-up finish. It also has another effect: Since Bowie prefers a quiet approach, his older teammates can fill in the leadership gaps.
“He’s in a good situation where there’s older guys around him,” Green said. “He can lead, and he can be led. It’s kind of a group effort, honestly. They all have this relationship where they can talk to each other and motivate each other. It’s a good situation for him to be in, around all those good leaders.”
“My seniors take me under their wing. That helps a lot,” Bowie added. “It didn’t matter how young I was. They just keep me under their wing and help me get better.”
The part that the Thunder love is that Bowie has done plenty of that over the offseason, too. Payne has noticed a change in Bowie’s size, both from the weight room and in his height. Green has liked the way Bowie has become a better defender. For his part, Bowie wants to become a better rebounder. He wants to grab six or seven a game.
More importantly, though, he wants to win. So it won’t come as a surprise that he was brief when he talked about the way he sees the district race playing out.
“We’ll be No. 1,” Bowie said. “I think we’ll get going, get rolling.”