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Bowden Thankful for Relationships as Vol Career Comes to Sudden End

Photo by Caitlyn Jordan/RTI

Jordan Bowden now spends his days waking up and trying to get his online class work done early in the day after breakfast. After class, taking care of his body is the primary focus, whether that be by way of something as simple as pushups or rest.

Tennessee’s senior guard had his final season as a Vol unfairly cut short. Bowden and the Vols were in Nashville for the SEC Tournament when conference basketball tournaments all around the country were being canceled due to the Coronavirus. Ultimately, the SEC decided to cancel theirs as well, ending Bowden’s college career as the NCAA and NIT Tournaments were cancelled shortly after.

“We were really prepared for the SEC Tournament, which would’ve started off going against Alabama,” Bowden said during a videoconference on Thursday afternoon. “So, we were focused on that game plan and whatnot.

“Once we got to the gym that morning, they told us about the tournament and what was going on, saying it was canceled. A lot of emotions were in my head, knowing that could be my last time playing for UT. And it was.”

It still doesn’t feel real to Bowden that his senior season ended the way it did. Bowden has been searching for a sense of normalcy since the decision, but he also understands why it was made.

At the end of the day, it’s just a game of basketball.

“It’s your senior year, you want to go out fighting and swinging,” Bowden said. “To end it like that, it sucked. But I know it’s bigger than basketball; it’s something the world needs to sit down and realize.”

Bowden finishes his Tennessee career as a top 25 scorer in program history. The East Tennessee native started 99 games, made 299 career free throws, and finished with 1,365 career points, which is good enough for 24th all-time on UT’s scoring list. Bowden is the only Vol ever to total 1,000 points, 450 rebounds, and 250 assists.

His 132 career games played as a Vol are tied with former teammate Admiral Schofield for fifth-most in program history. Bowden nearly completed an impressive feat of making at least 50 three-pointers in three separate seasons. He made 51 during his sophomore and junior seasons, but he finished one shy (49) of 50 this past season. Bowden made 186 career threes, good enough for seventh-most.

The statistics summarize a strong career for Bowden. But to the player that always had a smile on his face, the relationships he formed during his playing career stands out more than anything.

“It means everything to be part of this,” Bowden said. “Last year, being the No. 1 team in the country at my dream school, playing and contributing with my teammates; it’s an amazing feeling. I’m thankful for this opportunity I had the last four years.

“Off the court, just being a better man. Coach Barnes harped on that, being a better man. With Chris Walker being our chaplain, he’s pushed me in my faith a whole lot, and I think I’ve changed a whole lot with that, getting closer with God.”

Bowden’s mother pushed for the Vols to recruit her son out of high school despite only being a three-star prospect out of nearby Carter High School. Coming to Tennessee was his mother’s dream, his late granny’s dream, and ultimately his as well.

Now, Bowden’s on a chase to fulfill another dream: playing in the NBA. But if the opportunity were presented to winter athletes to return for another season, it’s a decision he would be open to.

“I’d love to stay here at UT,” Bowden said. “But it’s just something I would have to talk about with my family and things like that. But I would love to come back.

“It’s a childhood dream to play in the NBA. That’s one thing I’m going to continue to work toward, to get on a team. The sky is the limit for me, I know that. I just have to continue to work and have faith.”

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