Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – Jeff Bowie is a full-fledged force on the football field with a bright future ahead on the gridiron.
Before Bowie fully focuses on football beginning next fall the University of Iowa defensive line signee first has some unfinished basketball business that needs attending to.
After having his first three prep basketball seasons disrupted by injuries Bowie is back on the basketball court and causing major problems for opponents in his final prep season.
“Getting to really play my first full season on varsity is really exciting,” Bowie said. “It’s a lot of fun because it’s all the guys that I grew up with playing basketball and I’ve been missing it the last few years.”
A dislocated ankle as a freshman and broken hand as a sophomore cut short the first two basketball seasons for Bowie.
He came on in a big way last season averaging 12.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game before shoulder surgery curtailed another season after 13 games.
Despite the injuries and his football future which Bowie secured last month when he signed with the Hawkeyes, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound forward couldn’t wait to get on the basketball court for a final season.
So far it has been a big-time success for Bowie who has helped Class 2A fifth-ranked West Branch to an unbeaten 9-0 start while leading the Bears in scoring and rebounding.
“I definitely feel like I’m playing the best I ever have,” Bowie said. “I worked a lot this summer. I came to a lot of open gyms just because I’ve always really liked playing basketball.”
The statistics support the claim Bowie has been at his best this season.
Bowie is averaging career-highs in both points (14.9) and rebounds (7.3) while shooting an impressive 67 percent from the floor.
He is also averaging 1.3 blocked shots per game.
“I worked on my shot and I worked on a lot of hook shots,” Bowie said. “I’ve always had the strength to just bully people but I was never really able to shoot a hook over somebody or work a move and just working with my coach on my moves has really helped me out.”
Bowie’s consistency in the paint has been a key for West Branch during its strong start.
The senior has scored in double figures in eight of nine games and has grabbed six or more rebounds eight times.
Bowie had a double-double in a 55-50 win over Camanche and is coming off one of his best games of the season, a 19-point, 8-rebound effort in a come-from-behind win over Mid-Prairie on Friday.
“Bowie is just a big load in there,” West Branch coach Jason Kern said. “In the fourth quarter on Friday he stepped up and was huge for us.”
The presence of Bowie alone is enough to alter game plans for opposing coaches.
Along with senior forward Simon Palmer (14.7 points, 7 rebounds), Bowie is a part of one of the most difficult front court duos to matchup with in Class 2A.
That has opened up the offense for West Branch which has two other players averaging more than eight points per game in junior Thomas Gould (10.3) and senior Gavin Hierseman (8).
“We know everybody that we play is going to key on Jeff and Simon, we always tell them that they are going keyed on but we also have three to six other guys that are going to step,” Kern said. “They don’t care who scores on this team, who is getting the rebound they are just playing for each other and that’s the best thing about these guys.”