Anthony Cowan committed to Maryland in January 2015, about 22 months before he'll play his first college game next fall. The four-star prospect from St. John's College in Washington has already been a part of Maryland's basketball family for more than a year, so he and the Terrapins know each other well. The situation is reminiscent of when Melo Trimble committed to Maryland in December 2012, nearly two full years before his own first game.
When Maryland takes the court again in November, Cowan will be there. Trimble may or may not be, as he's sorting through a challenging decision on whether to leave school for this summer's NBA Draft. Trimble's future has been the subject of a lot of hand-wringing – but none, apparently, from the player most effected by it.
Cowan plans to move in at Maryland on May 30, and he says he'll be ready to contribute whether Trimble stays in College Park or not.
"I've been playing like that my whole life. I've been able to play with another guard," Cowan told Testudo Times. "If Melo stays or goes, I think any way could work."
For as long as Cowan plays for Maryland, he'll be compared to Trimble. Because while Trimble was a centerpiece in getting Maryland back on the national map, Cowan will be central to Maryland's staying there. Add that both players are local, blue-chip point guards who committed early and never wavered in signing with Maryland, and their portraits are similar. That isn't lost on Cowan, but neither are the differences between the two.
"I think we both can shoot the ball very well. I think I impact the game a little bit more on the defensive end, and I think he's a better finisher around the basket, more than me, just because of how much bigger he is than me right now. But I think our games are so similar," Cowan said. "We both got our teammates involved very well, and I think if we were able to do that together, I think it would be hard to stop."
Cowan is listed at 6 feet and 170 pounds. Trimble is 6'3 and listed at 185, although his muscle mass makes that weight seem suspiciously low. Cowan is much smaller, but with lightness comes more quickness. As Cowan has transitioned toward preparing for college in recent months, he's focused on getting the best of both traits.
"My workouts definitely now have been more toward getting weight and testing out different food plans I've been working on," he said. "It's been basically just focusing on gaining weight and making sure I keep my speed."
Cowan recently wrapped his senior season at St. John's by leading the school to its first WCAC championship since 2000, beating DeMatha Catholic in a title game attended by Trimble and a handful of his teammates. Cowan scored a game-best 21 points in the win, his last big game before the first one he will play at Maryland.
As Maryland's NCAA Tournament run wore on this season, Cowan tracked it in a group message with Maryland's two other 2016 commits: four-star shooting guard Kevin Huerter and three-star small forward Micah Thomas. The three are building a "solid relationship," Cowan said, as they get set to spend nearly every waking hour together for as long as their Maryland careers last.
It's an interesting time for Cowan and his classmates to be arriving at Maryland. The Terps will lose at least 40 percent of their starting lineup, and depending on the decisions of Trimble, Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr., they could lose all of it. There's a lot of variation in how much playing time could be immediately available, and some think Maryland will take a step backward. Cowan isn't worried about it.
"That definitely just adds another chip on my shoulder," he said. "It was similar like that my sophomore year, when there were five seniors that graduated, and then my team, coming up junior year, there was talk about how we weren't gonna be that good. It's always been like that, so I'm ready for that."
In Cowan's junior year, St. John's went 13-5 in the WCAC. The next year's record was 16-2, with Cowan ending his high school career a champion. He's had substantial success, and he's ready to get rolling on a new challenge at Maryland.
"I come in with a lot of intensity. It's all smiles off the court, but on the court, it's a different person. But it's always fun. I just like to have fun and just play the game," he said. "I'm just coming out with a positive attitude and with a winning attitude."