Growing up in Bowie, he attended Gary Williams' summer camp in College Park several times. His father, Anthony Sr., received his master's from the school. His grandmother works in the university's African-American Studies program.
So it made sense that Cowan, a four-star recruit rated the No. 62 prospect overall by Scout.com in the Class of 2016, orally committed to Mark Turgeon's program on Saturday. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound point guard won't officially sign a letter of intent until next year, but he announced his commitment Monday.
Cowan also has a connection to current freshman star point guard Melo Trimble. The two were part of the same D.C. Assault Amateur Athletic Union program and played against each other in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference when Trimble was at Bishop O'Connell in Arlington, Va. Cowan is now a junior at St. John's College High in Washington.
Cowan said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun that Maryland "was the right place for me to go."
"I wanted to stay home, and I know Maryland wanted me to stay home," he added. "Everything was the right fit, and that was the place I wanted to be."
Cowan, 17, is currently leading the WCAC in scoring at more than 19 points a game as well in assists with around seven a game. He said he had 10 scholarship offers, including ones from Georgetown, Illinois, Penn State, West Virginia, Florida State and Xavier.
Having grown up a fan of the Hoyas, Cowan's allegiances began to change during the recruiting process.
"I felt like Maryland showed how loyal they were to me. I don't know if it's because I'm an in-state kid," he said. "They made sure they always stayed in contact."
Considered more of a true point guard who can also score, Cowan doesn't seem to mind the idea of trying to earn playing time on a roster overstocked with guards. Though Trimble might be playing in the NBA by the time Cowan arrives in 2016, there will also be competition from current junior college star Jaylen Brantley and current freshman Dion Wiley. Both will be juniors when Cowan arrives.
"Me and coach Turgeon had a talk about that," Cowan said. "He said that the point guards they have or are recruiting don't do what I do. He just has a lot of different guards that he needs for different things, and that what makes the team so good."
By rule, Maryland's coaches cannot comment on recruits until they sign a letter of intent.
Anthony Cowan Sr. played high school basketball at Northwestern High in Hyattsville with Jay Bias – the late younger brother of former Maryland star Len Bias – before playing college football at Hampton University. He said Monday that he likes the fact that Turgeon's offense has always revolved around its guards.
"One of the things we understand from his days at Texas A&M and playing at Kansas was that Coach Turgeon likes guards," Cowan Sr. said. "Anthony has played in high school and in AAU on teams where he's on the ball [at point guard] and off the ball [at shooting guard]."
Along with Brantley, a 5-11 combination point and shooting guard from Springfield, Mass. who is currently at Odessa College in Texas, Cowan might be also pretty good insurance for Turgeon should Trimble decide to leave early for the NBA.
Cowan Sr. said that his son considers Trimble "like a big brother."
Asked if Trimble is an attraction for other recruits, Cowan Jr. said that "Melo is just a good person that you can relate to and easy to talk to. As good as he is on the court, he's a better person off the court. He's just a great friend."
Cowan has been something of a draw himself these days.
Cowan Sr. said that his son wanted to make his commitment earlier and held off his decision to allow college recruiters to keep coming to St. John's in order to see some of his teammates. "He knew he was a draw and he wanted those guys to get additional looks."
Cowan said that Maryland's sudden rise to the national rankings this season did not have as much impact on his decision as the way he was treated by the Terps.