The John Wall Holiday Invitational has a rich tradition of bringing some of the nation's top prospects to the Triangle area. I headed over to check out two prospects Duke has offered in Matas Buzelis and 6-8 Taylor Bol Bowen where both play for Brester Academy out of New England.
Bowen put up numbers of 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting and 3 of 4 from the three-point stripe. He also added 2 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. And he is consistently putting up steady numbers across the board in three games at the event.
The budding star caught my eye on night one in that he makes his team better when he is on the court. He is unselfish, has a nose for the ball, and is long and lean allowing him to alter the game defensively.
I like that Bowen plays intelligently and within his game. In other words, he rarely forces things to happen that lead to turnovers. He can go up to flush a dunk, get in passing lanes and moves the ball quickly to teammates when the ball is in his hands.
He has been improving steadily and will likely start to creep up in the rankings with his versatility and stat-stuffing game. His outside shot has been questioned by some but he nailed three of tour three-pointers today. And he has worked on his ball-handling showing pride in that as he answers the questions below.
It is easy to see why Duke coach to be Jon Scheyer extended an offer to Bowen. He seems to be a solid young man, focused and the right combination of being humble and confident at the same time.
I can see how he'd fit in any college system. Every team needs an unselfish player who could become a disruptive force with continued work. I saw enough in my two vies of him to see him as a late bloomer that may soon shed the label of being a little raw. From my vantage, his versatility makes him one of the best players in the class.
Which schools are most involved in your recruitment of late?
As of right now, I am hearing from schools like Duke, UCLA, Georgetown and Providence a lot. There has been a lot of teams from a lot of conferences but right now my focus is on getting better.
What are you looking for in a school?
I am just looking for a school that will give me an opportunity to play my game and be me really. You know, just a second home. I am not going to ask for playing time or minutes I just want to come in and earn it with work.
What have you been working on of late with concern to your game?
I have been working on a lot of my guard skills and I think it showed up here. I know I need to work on my shot but I am really just trying to put together a good game and focus on what I do best.
You mentioned Duke earlier. What kind of relationship do you have with Jon Scheyer?
Coach Scheyer is a great coach for sure. He was one of the first to reach out to me on June 15th and I really appreciate that. Obviously, I have been a big fan of Duke and what they have going on there. (Note - He is speaking of the open period and when coaches can make contact with prospects.)
Has he spoken to you about how they might use you in the system yet or is it a little early for that?
Definitely a little bit but I will give you an idea of what was said. He just wants me to come in and use my length and athletics and versatility.
Now, you reclassified... is that still on as planned?
Absolutely, yes, as a freshman I went to St. Georges and I really appreciated that opportunity when I had it but I will graduate next year  for sure.
I know you are close to your brothers and have a home gym with them?
Are they a part of your inner circle and who will help you make your college decision?
It is going to be me and my close coaches and trainer. It is really a tight-knit circle with my family and coaches. That is really it, there is no outside noise and I just want to continue to focus on my game.
I have seen a lot of guys play over the years and your play of late has you poised to move up in the rankings. Your game has improved to the point where everyone is noticing. How will you stay grounded if that kind of thing starts to happen?
Well for me I know I am not number one and I am not the best I know that there are guys out there ahead of me and that drives me every day. I want to kill that guy who is in front of me every time.
Are Academics big for you?
Yes, most definitely. My mom instilled a work ethic through discipline and education was a part of that.
I read in another interview that if you didn't make it to the NBA, you would possibly seek work in basketball in front offices, etc...
I really want to get my degree for sure and my mom always said if you are not going to play basketball you have got to get your degree. Even if I make it she says I still have to get my degree from a good school so that is high on my list as well. No chance I would never be okay with the NBA not working out. If that doesn't work out I am going overseas for I want to play until old age But once I am done with the game I still want to be a part of it in that there are so many different things you can do.... so many different levels all the way up to the pros. I just love the game and love being around it.
What advice do your brothers give you?
My brother just give me advice to just be me and play hard. My brother Deng is one of the hardest workers if not a harder worker than me and I feel like if he was 6-7 or whatever he would have been one of the best players in the nation. But he worked hard and walked on at UVM.
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