Miles Bowman Jr. succeeds against adversity

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Pop. One sound. That’s all that it took to change the life of Miles Bowman, Jr.

Bowman is all too familiar with that sound as he has heard it not once, not twice, but three times. Bowman, a senior at High Point University, is a member of the men’s basketball team. As a North Carolina native, Bowman would stay close to home by attending HPU, but his college journey was filled with several twists and turns.

Early Life and High School

Bowman is not a stranger to adversity. When he was six, Bowman lost his mother to breast cancer. When he was seven, he lost his father to natural causes.

“I was in a dark space,” Bowman said. “Sometimes it doesn’t feel normal. Some people get to go home and see their mom and dad. I wish that I had a mom and dad to go home to. I wish that they could come up here to see my games.”

Bowman’s family came to his aid during the loss of his parents. Through the tough times, Bowman would turn to the basketball court to clear his mind. Basketball would become his escape from reality, giving him extra motivation to become a better player.

“During tough times I normally come to the gym,” Bowman said. “I come to clear my mind. Even if I just come to sit on the court – I just walk around. I find basketball as my happy place. No one can argue with you on the court, it’s just me and the basketball.”

Bowman’s high school basketball career started at Parkland High School in Winston Salem. After his freshman year, Bowman transferred to Quality Education Academy in Winston Salem. He would help the academy win two national championships in his sophomore and junior seasons. As a senior, Bowman went back to Parkland with the goal of bringing the team state championship. Bowman’s dream of winning the state championship as a member of Parkland was cut short after the team lost in the third round of the state playoffs. Bowman still holds records at Parkland for most points in a game (56) and most rebounds in a game (21).

“He was a coach’s dream,” said former Parkland head coach Carlos Mumford. “He could do it all. He could score the ball and he could rebound the ball. I knew that he was that type of player. I’m the type of coach where I’m going to feed him, feed him, feed him.”

In 2011, Bowman started his college career at Delaware State University. He redshirted his freshman year. After his second season he decided to transfer to Louisburg College in order to get more exposure to bigger name college basketball programs. While at Louisburg, Bowman received offers from various schools including Appalachian State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, North Carolina State University and HPU.

With his sights set on the future, Bowman’s season ended abruptly after one day at practice in February 2020.

“I went for a layup right at the beginning of practice, not even 30 minutes in, and then I went to plant,” Bowman said. “I tore my ACL, MCL, and meniscus all at once and it blew my knee out of proportion.”

From that moment on, Bowman’s life would be changed forever. His new journey would consist of four hours of rehab a day for two and a half years.

The Journey to HPU

Bowman committed to HPU after playing one season at Louisburg. He chose HPU because the coaching staff made him feel like family, and he had a massive amount of support from them during his recovery process.

In August of 2020, Bowman faced another setback at basketball practice. He had tore his ACL again. His injury would force him to miss the rest of offseason workouts and the first couple of games of the 2020-2020 season.

Bowman was anxious to get back out on the court. He continued to do his best to stay in shape and he participated in multiple rehab sessions. Due to his progress, Bowman received good news – he was cleared to play again before the game against Liberty University on Jan. 29, 2020. Although he did not play in that game, he was able to wear his uniform again.

Bowman’s life would take yet another twist and turn during practice that following week. Two days before the game against Radford University, Bowman felt the pop again. For the third time, he had tore his ACL in his left knee. Bowman was ruled out for the rest of the season and started his recovery process all over again.

“Miles has certainly had his fair share of trials and tribulations during his recovery and back to getting into playing shape,” said High Point Director of Operations Scott Lombardi. “To his credit, he is a hardworking individual. It really is a testament to his character what kind of person he is and his dedication to his teammates and the program by putting in maximum effort in making sure and getting himself back to being healthy again.”

Almost a year later, Bowman’s journey came full circle.

On Jan. 9, 2020, Bowman completed his comeback against Presbyterian College. Already up and by a big margin, Bowman returned to the court. It was officially only two minutes, but to Bowman it was more than that.

“There was like a minute left in the game and my coach told me to go and check in and I was like, ‘What? Seriously?’ He said, ‘Yeah. Let’s go, let’s go.’ I went to go check in, took my shirt off, and I remember when I stepped on the court I was like, ‘Wow, I’m finally back,’” Bowman said. “I think that I delayed the game for at least two minutes just by walking on the court. Everybody was just happy to see me back out there. It was just crazy.”

Bowman would make his first shot a few weeks later against Campbell University. Bowman went to the foul line and sunk both free throw attempts.

“It was the first time that I put the ball through the hoop in a game in two and a half years, so I’m just like, I’m back,” Bowman said.

Following his trip to the foul line, Bowman was greeted with smiles and congratulations by his teammates and coaches. Finally, he was back.

“It’s hard for you to do something once and bounce back from it mentally, but after doing it two or three times it’s hard to stick with it and still have the same confidence,” said teammate Jalen Williams. “To even go out there and test it over and over knowing that there is the slightest chance that it might happen again, it takes a strong man. You have to be strong-willed, to come back like how he has and to keep high spirits and to stay positive all the time.”

A few weeks later, Bowman posted his first double-double as a Panther by scoring 15 points and 11 rebounds in a win against Winthrop University. With Bowman as their starting center in the Big South tournament, the Panthers reached the semifinals, but they ended up losing to UNC-Asheville. Bowman experienced great success in the tournament, as he averaged 21 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Bowman was later selected to the 2020 Big South All-Tournament team.

“He started playing at the end of the year last year and he got a taste of it, but now he gets to start from the beginning and build and continue to see himself grow,” Williams said.

Bowman has big expectations for his senior season. Bowman wants to win the Big South tournament this year and play in the NCAA tournament. He also wants to break the High Point record for most rebounds in a game (16).

“Keep working, keep pushing,” Bowman said. “When things start to get tough don’t give up. Just try and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you don’t think that you see that light at the end of the tunnel, try. Just keep trying. Keep pushing yourself and don’t ever give up on yourself. God has a plan. Everything happens for a reason.”

Campus Chronicle
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