This summer, ACCSports.com is taking a look at some of the best point guards in the ACC in an effort to see if we can determine who will be the league’s top lead guard next season. Last month, we looked into the cases for Bryant Crawford and Bruce Brown. We then checked out pick-and-roll maven Matt Farrell, UNC’s Joel Berry and the under-the-radar Justin Robinson of Virginia Tech. Now, we turn our attention to Ky Bowman of Boston College.
It defies conventional wisdom to think of someone with a shock of red hair going unnoticed. In fact, isn’t the point of that type of hair design meant to stand out? Well, if Ky Bowman’s hairstyle wasn’t enough to draw you in during the 2016-17 season, then hopefully his play stood out.
Bowman was the fifth and final member of the ACC’s All-Freshman team, and he made the case for why he may be the best point guard in the ACC next season. If you’re bullish on the future of Boston College basketball, he a huge reason why.
Where’s the love?
It’s fair to say that Boston College’s basketball program has been a bit sleepy in recent years. The Eagles haven’t participated in the NCAA Tournament since 2009, when Al Skinner was the coach. Jim Christian has won just 29 combined games in his first three seasons. Brighter days may be on the horizon, but it’s hard to argue with the notion that if Bowman played for a more prominent program that he’d receive a larger sample of publicity.
Bowman was scintillating in his debut season. He was one of just three freshmen in Division I basketball last season to score better than 12 points per game and hand out at least two assists while shooting 40-plus percent on three-pointers and 50-plus percent from the field. One of those other plays was T.J. Leaf of UCLA, who projects as a top-25 pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
People finally started to take notice of Bowman’s wild talents after his breakout performance against UNC, when the native of Havelock, N.C., turned Joel Berry into mincemeat.
The 6-1 dynamo poured in 33 points on 19 field-goal attempts. Bowman did it all — step-back threes, wild forays into the paint and a pick-six steal that he turned into a wicked right-handed slam:
Shooting off the bounce
Part of what makes Bowman so dangerous is his ability to do something you really can’t game-plan for, which will drive ACC coaches crazy for years. That would be Bowman’s ability to shoot off the dribble.
According to Synergy Sports, Bowman shot 50.8 percent from the field when he was a ball-hander in pick-and-roll action. That is absolutely sizzling. Of ACC players to use at least 50 of those possessions in the 2016-17 season, Bowman ranked No. 4 in field-goal percentage.
In total, when shooting off the dribble, Bowman shot 37.5 percent on jump shots off the dribble, per Synergy. He scored 0.96 points per possession on said attempts — good for fourth in the ACC, too.
But wait…there’s more!
Bowman, however, is even more dangerous when shooting off the catch. As a freshman, he connected on 51.4 percent of these bombs (77.1 adjusted field-goal percentage) and scored 1.54 points per possession. Only two Power Five conference players were more efficient off the catch than Bowman: Virginia Tech’s Seth Allen (1.62) and Naismith College Player of the Year winner Frank Mason of Kansas (1.55).
This is why the handles of 2-guard Jerome Robinson are so important; he allows Bowman to flow off the ball and look for more efficient attempts at the hoop.
A red hair — I mean, red flag: Turnovers
You can only prepare but so much for guards who shoot accurately off the dribble; however, one of the better ways to curtail a pick-and-roll scorer off a ball-screen is a trap — two defenders hone in on the ball-handler. Boston College isn’t exactly loaded with secondary talents, so teams will likely load up on Bowman next season.
Bowman coughed the ball up a fair amount this season, too. Per KenPom.com, he posted a turnover rate of 22.6 percent. That’s pretty steep, but considering the fact that he was a rookie, it’s not all that unexpected. Bowman even had his issues in that otherwise sterling UNC game, when he committed eight turnovers.
As potent of a pick-and-roll scorer as he is, Bowman could make another jump if he cut down on his turnovers in this action. According to Synergy, the freshman turned the ball over on 24.1 percent of his ball-handling possessions.