By Gage Nutter
At Springfield College men’s basketball tryouts last season, then-freshman Hunter Bowers showcased his innate ability to knockdown three pointers when called on.
His stroke from beyond the arc was impressive, but the young sharpshooter was slightly undersized and didn’t appear fully confident in his ability on the court. After making it to the final day of tryouts, he was informed he didn’t earn a spot on the team.
This season, after working multiple times a week with a trainer in the summer and playing basketball at least three times a week near his local church, he has worked his way onto the preseason-ranked No. 7 Pride men’s basketball team.
“Just being a year older makes such a big difference,” said head coach Charlie Brock about Bowers development from last year. “Physically, from a strength standpoint and mentally from a confidence standpoint. He came into tryouts last year and had the whole cliche of deer in headlights. I thought he came in this year with full confidence and was ready to go.”
Bowers is a native of Somers, CT. He started playing organized basketball in middle school. Since then, he has had a passion for the game. He also played golf as a freshman in high school and did track his senior year. After being informed that he was not going to be a part of the team last season, he joined Springfield’s track and field team and competed in the long jump. As a member of the team he participated at the regional meet and placed fifth.
Twenty players participated during the first day of last year’ tryouts. This year, the number of participants increased to upwards of 25 on day one.
Bowers was struck by how many people initially came out for the team, but he knew all he could do was stick to his game, work on what he could control and hope for the best
“I wasn’t intimidated [at the turnout], but I was a overwhelmed a little bit,” said Bowers. “Since last year there were a lot less people, but I just thought in my mind that I knew what I needed to do and I was prepared.”
Although he has the ability to defend well and rebound, it is Bowers’ threatening shot from behind the arc that will immediately help the team moving forward.
Much-like teammate and fellow wing player Cam Earle, Bowers thrives in catch-and-shoot situations. He has been taking mental notes of how the senior sharpshooter goes about his routines and how he gets himself open in practice.
“I’ve asked him [Cam] what he does in certain aspects and watching how he gets his shot ready and how he releases,” said Bowers. “I just try to take things from him and put it into my shot.”
Coming into last season, Bowers was internally motivated to make the team. After watching the live streams and seeing the team’s success in the NCAA tournament, he became even more motivated to work as hard as he could to have a chance at joining the program.
“Even during spring break when they were on the run I’d watch the games and just thought that being with a team in that moment and with that opportunity would be incredible,” said Bowers. “That was a definite motivating factor.”
Last season, the Pride took 13 players on its roster. The number dwindled down to 12 after a player transferred to a different school.
This season, the team is taking 14 players to give the program some cushion in case injuries sprout up. It also gives the team an advantage in practice. With more players, and at an even number, the team can do more things during practice in pairs and even groups.
The team has plenty of talented bodies at the wing position (Cam Earle, Heath Post and Deonte Sandifer to just name a few), but if Bowers’ number is called, Brock has faith he will step up.
“I have full confidence if it (injuries) happens, he will do something,” said Brock. “He was effective in the scrimmage (against Roger Williams).”
Photo courtesy of Springfield College Athletics