RTI contributor Robert Hughes is the author of this article
After being led by the likes of Jordan Bone, Grant Williams, and Admiral Schofield to a Sweet Sixteen run in 2019, the Tennessee men’s basketball team needs some new faces of the program after those three were drafted into the NBA. If the Vols hope to make an NCAA Tournament run yet again this upcoming season, they’ll need new leaders and play-makers to emerge.
According to NCAA basketball expert Andy Katz, one of the Volunteers’ seniors is poised to do just that.
Entering his final season as a Vol, senior guard Jordan Bowden was tabbed as one of 11 breakout players for the 2019-2020 basketball season by Katz on NCAA.com.
“Bowden averaged 10 points a game last season. He should average at least a few more into the mid-teens this season with Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield gone,” Katz wrote of UT’s senior guard. “Bowden’s role will increase in the locker room, too, as he evolves into one of the team leaders with Lamonte Turner. Bowden has it in him to become an All-SEC player by season’s end.”
Coming off a season where he averaged double-digit points for the first time in his three-year career (10.6 points per game), Bowden’s role as a scorer will have to expand even more if he is to have the breakout year that Katz predicted.
If the past is any indication, Bowden is poised to thrive in his new role.
In each of his three seasons at Tennessee, Bowden has increased his scoring year-to-year. In the 2016-2017 season, Bowden’s first season at Tennessee, he averaged 7.9 points per game; during his sophomore campaign, Bowden averaged 9.1 points per game, increasing over a point from the previous year. Last season, Bowden finished with career-highs in scoring and shooting percentage, finishing the season with a .459 field goal percentage to go along with his 10.6 points a game, a full point and a half higher than his sophomore year.
Bowden’s best season was not without adversity, however. After opening the 2018-2019 season with a slow start, averaging just 6.8 points per game through the first five games, Bowden was benched in favor of then-sophomore forward Yves Pons.
In his new role as the sixth man in the rotation, Bowden shined off the bench with memorable moments throughout the season, including back-to-back 20-point games against Georgia and Missouri to open conference play for the Vols.
Despite the rising levels of talent and competition in the Southeastern Conference, no other player in the SEC was named as one of the 11 breakout players by Andy Katz for the upcoming college basketball season, making both the confidence and the pressure on Knoxville native all the more prominent.
Bowden will be one of only two seniors on Tennessee’s roster this season. He and fellow guard Lamonte Turner will the the Vols’ only two senior players on the team, though they’ll have juniors such as John Fulkerson, Jalen Johnson, and Yves Pons to help with leadership as well.
The first chance for Bowden to prove his worth in his new, expanded role will be on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET against Eastern New Mexico in an exhibition match-up. Tennessee then tips off the regular season almost a week later against UNC-Asheville on November 5th in Knoxville.