UNI Panthers

Bowen Born itching to start basketball career at UNI

Norwalk prep staying busy, working on game

Norwalk senior Bowen Born, driving to the basket during a game against Harlan in the Class 3A state quarterfinals in Mar
Norwalk senior Bowen Born, driving to the basket during a game against Harlan in the Class 3A state quarterfinals in March, is looking forward to getting on the Northern Iowa campus. (Des Moines Register)

CEDAR FALLS — Like many high school seniors across the country, Norwalk’s Bowen Born is unsure when he’ll be able to get on campus at the University of Northern Iowa and begin workouts with his new teammates.

Iowa’s Mr. Basketball and Gatorade player of the year is set to bring one of the best prep resumes in state history — whenever the coronavirus pandemic allows him to — to Cedar Falls.

In the meantime Born has been dealing with the unique circumstances of social distancing and other pandemic protocols by finding ways to improve himself while at home.

“Right now it’s just basically (shooting in) the driveway,” Born said. “I’ve got a little gym in my basement too, for lifting weights.

“I’ve been doing that in my basement and shooting outside when it’s nice. So it’s been an interesting past few months, but obviously everybody is kind of in the same boat. Trying to continue to stay in shape and get better in a difficult situation.”

After making it to state with Norwalk as a sophomore and junior, Born and his teammates finally broke through this past season and won the Class 3A state championship. He averaged a staggering 36.4 points per game for the Warriors last season, seven more than the state’s next highest scorer. The future Panther finished his prep career in the top 10 of the state’s all-time scorers, and credited coaches and teammates for making his high-level production possible.

“It was something that was really special, just the unselfishness of this team was really incredible,” Born said. “It was something that we kind of struggled with a little bit at the beginning of the year. We kind of got to a point in the year where we didn’t care who was scoring the ball as long as we were scoring as a team.”

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While Born did much of his scoring as Norwalk’s primary point guard, he did spend time playing off the ball as a 2-guard in his sophomore and senior seasons. So, considering he’s set to join a UNI offense that continues to trend upward as star guard AJ Green continues to improve, he’s focused on doing whatever is asked of him to contribute.

“I’m not really sure what my role is going to be yet,” Born said. “I just want to go help the team win. That’s kind of who I’ve always been as a player. As of right now that’s really the only goal I’ve kind of set, is to go in and if I’m a practice guy or I’m playing right away, for me, I just want to help the team continue to get better.”

Born told The Gazette he had the ESPN+ package so he could watch all of UNI’s games last season. He also said he’s had a little experience in the Panthers' European-influenced offense in a couple of trips he made to campus as a prep.

“It is one thing I’ve noticed that is a lot different than the high school scheme,” Born said. “That’s one of the things I’m really excited about. All the screens and the motions that are just naturally involved in their offense is something that I’m really looking forward to, as well as all the players that they have up there already.

“It couldn’t be a more perfect fit for what they’re running.”

Perhaps the biggest question mark facing Born as he begins his college career is his height. He said he’s 5-foot-11 and plans to continue carrying a chip on his shoulder playing a game that favors the vertically gifted.

“Kind of want to just prove people wrong (that) it doesn’t matter how tall you are,” Born said. “Obviously that’s going to be a super big adjustment for me. It’s something that I’m focusing on right now — putting as much weight on as I can.”

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