Royals' Tiana Bowen Heads To Next Level
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
May 21, 2014, 13:21
Tiana Bowen sits with her parents and Royals head coach Billy Gray while signing her letter of intent.
PRINCE GEORGE — Tiana Bowen doesn't remember a time when she did not love the game of basketball. She loved the way anyone could succeed on the basketball court and how each player was able to fill a number of different roles. However, most importantly, she aimed to be the best.
In her neighborhood, Bowen was the only girl and in order to fit in, she knew she had to be better than the boys. She continually worked on her game, focusing on the fundamentals such as being able to rebound, play great defense and do the other things necessary to win.
And the better she became, the less the games became about bragging rights over the other kids and more just a continuation of her love for the sport. No longer was it just a hobby, basketball became her everything. Her continued improvement, hard-work and desire to pursue her dreams has brought her to a point not many could have envisioned.
Sitting in Prince George High School's library with her parents and basketball coach Billy Gray standing behind her, Bowen grabbed a pen and signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Virginia Wesleyan College.
"I was the only girl around where I lived, but I loved doing something the boys could do too," Bowen explained after signing. "It started off with a way to brag, but then I just fell in love with it and kept getting better and better until I just ate, breathed and slept basketball."
Yet, her path to don the green-and-white uniforms of the Royals was not a usual one. While most of the Royals have grown up together, entering the program as freshman and improving along side one another, Bowen was living in Germany up until this past season. She had no idea where she would fit in on a basketball court for Prince George or more importantly, would her teammates take her in.
But all it took was a few minutes for Gray to realize Bowen could be an immediate contributor before she even crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Bowen's mother had mailed game-film of Bowen playing basketball in Germany and Gray was immediately impressed.
After watching the film of Bowen, Gray knew that not only did he have a senior who could provide leadership on a team filled with sophomores and juniors, but someone who could make an immediate impact and start right away.
"When she first came here, it was a big treat because her mom had sent some film," Gray explained during Bowen's signing day. "My immediate thought was this kid can come in and help us right off and she has been. She's a senior, she's worked hard and has never given any problems and that goes a long way with playing time as well."
Bowen was a fixture in the Royals' starting lineup all season long on a team which won 22-consecutive games en route to a Conference 12 Championship with a 41-37 victory over L.C. Bird.
While the Royals were led by leading scorer and Wake Forest commit Ariel Stephenson, Bowen already knew not everyone can be a star player. She understood everyone needs to fill roles within a team for success to follow and she did everything the Royals needed to win.
Bowen averaged 4.9 points per game, fifth-best on the team, grabbed 3.4 rebounds per game, dished out 2.7 assists and swiped 2.9 steals per contest. Plus, that doesn't take into account the amount of time her defensive ability would shutout down an opponent over the course of the game or her desire to win led to a recovery of a loose-ball.
"Being that I'm short, even in the paint I still love to be dominant," Bowen said of her physical play. "I love jumping over people and getting rebounds over other girls. That goes back to the only girl thing, you had to hold your own with a bunch of boys."
And it's that tenacity which led to two offers to play college at the next level before Bowen decided on Virginia Wesleyan. The reasons why she chose to be a Marlins' player next season are aplenty: she loved the facilities, the coaching staff and the teammates she would call her own next season, but there is another reason that supercedes all.
After living in numerous places over the course of life, she wanted a place she could finally call home. The small liberal arts college boasts a tight-knit community along with small class sizes which make it the ideal fit for Bowen. As for what the coaching staff expects of Bowen next year, they kept it simple.
"They came down and saw me play against Manchester in the playoffs and they just told me, 'do what I do,'" Bowen said of the coaching staff.
What Bowen does is give it her all on every possession, using the skills she learned while playing against boys her whole life, while doing the little things to make a team a winning one, making her the perfect fit for a Marlins' team looking to build off a 17-win season last year.