And when Rowe looks back, he’ll see the foundation for another story. The story of how a mid-major basketball program in Southern California transformed a calm and shy Canadian into an international professional.
Last week, Rowe signed a professional contract with Roanne Basket Choir in the ProA Elite League of France, the best league in the country. The 6’7-inch Rowe sees it as a real opportunity for a forward, defensive, rebounding and running – the exact skills Cal State men’s full basketball coach Dedrique Taylor has taught Rowe in the past four years.
“I’m interested to see what kind of talent they have there. This is probably the best offer I will make as a rookie, “he said. “They don’t take a lot of recruits in this league. They like seasoned pros, so being a rookie in this league is really rare. This is what my agent explained to me when he showed me the offer.
“This is a good opportunity both from a gaming and financial point of view. “
Even if this is an opportunity that – thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic – Rowe will have to wait for. Instead of reporting to the city outside of Lyon, Rowe stays in California, doing – as he says – “mostly prison workouts” (running, push-ups, push-ups, rolling tires and handling balls from top to bottom of the ramp in his parking lot).
Here’s a picture. You arrive in the garage of your apartment and a chiseled and muscular Canadian 6-7 dribbles in front of you as you enter.
Call it Parking Rowe. It’s an image they can talk about in years when Rowe is inevitably inducted into the Cal State Fullerton Sports Hall of Fame. His numbers don’t beat you in the head, like former teammates Kyle Allman Jr. and Khalil Ahmed. They don’t hit you with the vertigo of Cedric Ceballos, Henry Turner, Pape Sow or Bruce Bowen either.
All they do is compare favorably.
Rowe is one of two players in Titan’s men’s basketball history to score 1,000 points, accumulate at least 660 rebounds, 160 assists, 80 blocks and 60 interceptions – Turner being the other. Rowe’s 21 career double-doubles are fourth in program history, his 811 career rebound is second behind Tony Neal’s 1115 (yes, it’s ahead of two NBA alumni Ceballos and Sow) and his 113 career blocks are behind Neal’s 115.
Rowe beat the coronavirus bell which ended his senior season to earn a spot in the program’s top 10 scorers, his 1340 points placing him 10th. He is one of 26 Titans in the history of the program to score 1,000 career points.
Along the way, Rowe was Big West’s 2017 rookie of the year, a two-time All-Big West honorable selection and a second All-Big West team pick this year. That there has never been a first team choice can be explained by its consistency more than anything else. Rowe has averaged 12.1 points and 7.3 rebounds during his career, while drawing 53.5% of the field.
Rowe has another distinction, the one he talks about as his most memorable moment. When the Titans won the Big West tournament in 2018 – Rowe’s second year – he became one of only three Fullerton teams to play in the NCAA tournament.
“Looking back, I see more memories of the people I have played with than anything I have done in terms of score,” he said. “The Harvard game, where I went 10 for 10, I remember coach (John) Smith and coach Dedrique (Taylor) telling me I should be more excited about my success. I remember everyone was happy for me and excited for me.
“But more than marking that night, I feel like memories stay with me more than anything else. I remember everyone telling me more than I remember the match. “
Rowe is almost shy about this. His lingering memory misses an early morning workout with former assistant coach Smith. Now, just in his first year as head coach of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Smith used to train early in the morning to work with Rowe. One morning Rowe’s alarm did not go off and he missed training.
It didn’t end well. The normally equal Smith became thermonuclear at his charge.
“He was the only one I missed and he was so upset with me,” said Rowe. “He can laugh about it now and I laugh about it now, but at the time I felt horrible. It was probably the most memorable thing I remember at Cal State Fullerton and I know he remembers it too. “
These are all individual moments chosen by Rowe. Pretty memories of a career that defined Rowe’s silent coherence and role. But Taylor and his staff – as well as the university – deserve just as much credit for taking the reserved Rowe and letting him find his inner boss. It was not easy for someone who wanted nothing more than to lead by example.
“I learned after my second year, when a lot of players graduated, that I was going to have to be a good leader, not be quiet and not be introverted. I was going to have to reach out to people and be vulnerable, “he said. “Cal State Fullerton was a good thing for me because it forced me to play this role if I wanted to win games, which I wanted to do. It got me out of my shell.
“I realized after my junior year when we lost our top two goal scorers that we needed a goal scorer presence, but more than that, we needed a real leader, someone on whom everyone could count. I realized that everyone would be looking at me for the answers. “
Despite an injury that cost him the first 11 games of the season, Rowe provided those answers. He boosted the Titans’ momentum in the Big West tournament before the coronavirus wiped out the competition. He learned patience, when to entice a teammate and also hire one – all of the skills he will find rather useful in France.
“It was all up to me to learn how to work with people and become vulnerable when I had to be,” he said. “I learned to rely on my teammates to do things they were good at. I learned what they could and couldn’t do and I learned to hold them accountable. … Having this patience was something I definitely had to learn and take back. “
Did you know…?
This Rowe was a model of consistency during his career at the CSUF. He averages between 29.9 and 31.1 minutes per game, between 10.4 and 15.6 points per game, between 6.7 and 7.9 rebounds per game and 1.6 and 1.9 assists per match. He started 107 of 111 games in his four years.
He said it
Rowe, of the work ethic he learned from Titans head coach Dedrique Taylor playing at Cal State Fullerton: “Success is not property. He is praised. And the rent is due every day. “