Boston College leaning on Ky Bowman to take next step
BOSTON (AP) — You’ll know the Boston College basketball season is going well if Ky Bowman still has red hair when the spring rolls around.
And if coach Jim Christian has colored his hair, too, that will really be a reason to celebrate.
Bowman is sticking with the dyed locks this year after one “horrible” game with black hair last season, and Christian has promised his All-Atlantic Coast Conference guard that he would join him if the Eagles make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a decade.
“If he wants me to go red, if that’s what it takes to get us there, we’ll do that,” Christian said at the league’s media day. “I’m excited about it.”
After spending two seasons in the ACC cellar, the Eagles (19-16, 7-11 ACC) finished above .500 last year for the first time since 2011 and even picked up a signature win, upsetting No. 1 Duke in Chestnut Hill. They also beat ranked Miami and lost to No. 9 Virginia in Charlottesville by just one point.
Having tried for years to plug holes with graduate transfers, Christian is finally seeing progress in his fifth season at BC.
“For the first time, I feel like we’re not explaining things to everybody,” he said. “We’ve got guys who have been in the program in three years and four years (who) can explain some of the things we do and why we do it. I think we’re just way ahead of where we were because of that.”
BC is billing Bowman as the “nation’s most dynamic guard,” noting he’s the only player in the country to average at least 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. He was the only ACC player to rank in the top 11 in scoring, rebounding and assists; he is in the top 5 in all three categories for returning conference players.
Here are some other things to look for from BC this season:
Bowman arrived on campus to join a team that did not win an ACC game the previous year. The next season wasn’t much better, with the Eagles going 2-16 in the conference and finishing last for the second time in a row.
“Going into my first year we all had to believe in one thing and that’s just being able to compete against other teams, but also being able to know that we have each other’s backs,” he said. “We knew what we were getting ourselves into, but also knowing that every day we were going to fight.”
Bowman is one of four starters returning, along with guard Jordan Chatman and forwards Nik Popvic and Steffon Mitchell.
Jerome Robinson, who averaged just under 21 points as a junior, skipped his senior season to go pro and was selected No. 13 overall in the NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. Deontae Hawkins, a graduate transfer who played in just eight games for the Eagles before a season-ending knee injury, decided to pursue a job with a European team.
Hawkins averaged 12.4 points and 9.1 rebounds.
Jairus Hamilton, who is 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, is the first top 100 recruit to commit to BC since Craig Smith in 2002. He averaged 28.3 points and 13.2 rebounds as a senior for Cannon (North Carolina). Christian called him “explosively athletic.”
He is also bringing along his older brother, Jared, who transferred from Georgia Southern last semester and is eligible to play in December.
The Eagles have struggled to find a productive big man in recent years, and they are relying on junior Nik Popovic and sophomore Steffon Mitchell.
Mitchell had 181 rebounds last year, the most for a freshman in school history.
“Think about that,” Christian said. “We might not have been as tall. But I didn’t really look at many games where they out-toughed us. ... We had some tough kids, some physically strong, tough kids, and I think it’s only gotten better.”
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