From the day he put his name into the 2019 NBA draft last month, Maryland guard Anthony Cowan Jr. said that his goal was to get feedback from pro scouts about his post-college career.
Now it’s a matter of what Cowan does with the information and opinions he received from the two NBA teams he worked out for over the past five weeks — beginning with his senior year in College Park.
Cowan announced Wednesday that he will return to Maryland next season.
"I want to thank Coach Turgeon for his support and the professional organizations for their feedback as I explored the NBA Draft process," Cowan said in a statement released by the athletic department. "I took the opportunity extremely seriously and gained many things from the experience that will benefit me both on and off the court in the future. With that being said, I am returning to the University of Maryland to complete my education and my collegiate career. I'm looking forward to finishing what I started with a great group of teammates next season."
Cowan’s return will give Maryland coach Mark Turgeon seven of his top eight scorers from last year’s team, which finished 23-11 and lost to LSU in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Terps have been picked by some analysts to be a preseason top-10 team.
"Anthony made a smart decision educating himself about the draft process and gaining feedback necessary to help prepare for the future," Turgeon said in a statement. "He was able to work out for NBA teams and gain insight that will ultimately make him better. Anthony is a competitor who loves this program and wants to leave a legacy in College Park. I am excited he will complete his education and graduate with a degree in communications while leading our program next season."
The decision came hours after the 6-foot, 170-pound guard worked out for the Sacramento Kings and hours before the midnight deadline set for players to pull their names from consideration for the June 20 draft. Cowan had previously worked out for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Despite being one of the best guards in the Big Ten and his team’s leading scorer (as well as the leader in assists and steals) the past two seasons, Cowan was not expected to be drafted. He was not invited to either the NBA combine or the G League Elite Camp earlier this month.
Cowan was selected second-team All-Big Ten last season after averaging 15.6 points and 4.4 assists per game. But he also shot a career-low 39.3% from the field, including 7-for-29 in the NCAA tournament. Cowan was selected third-team All-Big Ten as a sophomore, as well as being named to the league’s all-defensive team.
One of six players in Maryland men's basketball history with 1,300 career points and 400 assists, Cowan has started all 99 games since coming to Maryland from St. John’s College High in Washington. He ranks 23rd in Maryland history in career points (1,376), ninth in career free-throws made (407), 12th in career 3-point field goals made (150) and is tied for 10th in career assists (437).
One NBA scout whose team did not work out Cowan said that all college players can benefit from the predraft process, which now allows prospects to hire an agent and still withdraw their names from consideration before the deadline.
“There’s no question that the experience these guys gain by going to facilities to work out for NBA teams, you’re able to measure up [against other players], you have your interview process, you go through an arduous amount of workouts and questions, just trying to figure out the makeup of what it takes to be a pro player,” the scout said.
Having watched Maryland play several times in his college career, the scout said that Cowan needs to work most on his decision making.
“I think he’s got to recognize what’s needed on the court at that time,” the scout said. “If you’re the quarterback, the point guard, and that ball is in your hand 80% of the time, it comes down to decision-making. I value a point guard that makes everybody better.”