West Xtra: Lincoln Park's Rowan has become a complete player on the court

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When required to, he can deftly bring the ball up court for his team.

If he is needed to spot up and shoot a 3-pointer or mid-range jumper, he can also be his team's go-to guy.

He also has the ability to post up down low and can rebound about as well as any player in WPIAL Class A.

From a basketball fans standpoint, it sounds like one might be describing the best player in the game, LeBron James. But anyone who has been a fan of Lincoln Park High School in Midland and has been following the Lepards' success this year, they know the actual subject is 6-foot-7 sophomore Maverick Rowan.

"I don't put anything past him," Mike Bariski said, who is the school's athletic director and assistant basketball coach. "He can absolutely stroke it. Mav likes everything about basketball. He has a picture perfect jump shot. He can shoot it off the dribble, stationary or catch and shoot. He has it all as far as shooting."

That is one of the main reasons why as a sophomore, Rowan has already committed to the most prestigious college basketball program in the area, the University of Pittsburgh.

"I plan on keeping my commitment," Rowan said. "Family means a lot to me and I want to stay close to home."

Through the first round of the playoffs where Rowan scored 23 points in an 84-27 blowout of Mapletown, Rowan is averaging 24.3 points per game. But that is just one of the many impressive stats he has accumulated throughout the year.

Rowan has also found a comfort zone from beyond the arc, making 45 3-pointers so far this season. He has also proven to be unselfish, dishing out 97 assists which averages out to 4.4 per game.

But that's not all.

He also uses his size to his advantage, corralling 150 rebounds or 6.8 per game. Don't forget about his team-leading 60 steals this season and the most impressive stat of all -- his numbers at the free throw line.

Rowan has converted on 89 percent (114-of -128) at the line this year, including tying a WPIAL record 52 consecutive free throws.

"[Tying the record] didn't mean anything [to me]," Rowan said. "I didn't put any thought into it."

Rowan is in his second year starting for the Leopards but Bariski believes he was good enough to start before he began high school.

"He could've started for a lot of teams in the WPIAL when he was in eighth grade," Bariski said. "He was that good."

As good as he was before arriving at Lincoln Park, Bariski believes he got even better this year, especially in his ballhandling.

"His ballhandling skills are his biggest improvement," Bariski said. "He gets the ball to the floor and back to him so quickly. We like Mav to bring the ball up court in different pressing situations. There is usually a bigger guy on him, so it is easier for him to bring it up."

One of Rowan's biggest games this year came against Union when he lit up the scoreboard for 39 points and only missed two shots. But it was his overall game that impressed Rowan the most.

"The most important part of my game is rebounding and passing and making plays for other people," Rowan said. "I like my defense to be just as good as my offense."

Bariski appreciates his overall game.

"He is just not a scorer," Bariski said. "He passes the ball very well. He leads us in steals. He plays the top of the press and is so long up there. He totally throws another team's game plan out of whack.

"Other teams have to think about him. There is not a matchup you can think of that will work for you. He is a matchup nightmare."

Rowan comes by his basketball skills honestly. His dad, Ron, was an all-state player at Beaver Falls in the early 1980s then matriculated first to Notre Dame then to St. John's, where he enjoyed an excellent career in the Big East.

Although Rowan was blessed with natural athletic ability, the player he has become today and hopes to turn into in the future was credited to one attribute -- practicing.

"Practicing means everything," Rowan said. "If you don't practice, then you won't be any good. That's why I practice as much as I can. Coach always tells us that we need to take anywhere between 500 to 1,000 shots a day."

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