The transition from high school basketball to the college game is evolving as a smooth move for Jakob Lowrance.
The 6-foot-8, 270-pound Lowrance, a freshman at D-II University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, has refined his touch that made him one of the best players in Civic Memorial High cage history.
He has gone from an Eagle to a Mule, and Lowrance is loving every minute of it.
“I’m starting to feel at home a little bit,” said Lowrance, the fourth-leading scorer and top career rebounder at CM. “It’s kind of a small-town feeling for some of the players, especially those coming from Kansas City, which is about an hour away. But it seems big to me because Warrensburg is twice the size of Bethalto.”
Lowrance, the AdVantage News Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year in 2015, added, “There are a lot of nice people on campus and in Warrensburg. People are friendly and say hello to you. They’ve been pretty nice to me.”
And he has been nice to them, especially on the court. At last glance, Lowrance was averaging 6.6 points per game and 2.8 rebounds for the 11-5 Mules. He started quickly and so did UCM, which won its first seven games.
That’s no surprise. Central Missouri captured the national D-II title two years ago and also finished first in 1983-84. There’s a proud tradition going and Lowrance wants to be a part of it. The Mules belong to the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
“It’s really a good program,” he said. “Every year, it seems like the team is in the top 25 in the nation. There’s also a great fan base.”
Lowrance quickly endeared himself to the UCM fans. In the season opener, a home game against Minnesota-Duluth, he sank all 6 of his shots from the field and scored 13 points.
It was quite a start and Lowrance was in the opening lineup for the 78-60 victory.
“I was a little nervous about it, but it was very exciting,” Lowrance said of his debut. “I got set up pretty well for my shots and my teammates found me.”
He followed that effort with 9 points against Concord St. Paul, 10 versus rival Rockhurst of Kansas City, 12 against Southwest Baptist and 14 vs. Missouri Southern.
Then he supplied a season-high 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting and 6 rebounds on Jan. 16 in a 51-48 victory over Lincoln. Lowrance has started in 11 of the Mules’ first 16 games.
“The game is a lot faster in college than it is in high school. It’s crazy,” Lowrance said of the increased tempo.
He added, “That’s the biggest difference for me. But I think I’ve adjusted to it well so far. You get used to it over time. It’s like making the jump from middle school basketball to high school ball. You learn to make adjustments.”
In one year, he has made some changes — on the fly. Lowrance is soaking up the nuances of the game like a sponge.
“When I played in high school, I would get touches of the basketball regardless,” he said. “Everything tended to go through me on offense and I was usually the first look.
“In college, we’re looking to find the open man first. Coach (Doug Karleskint) preaches making an extra pass on offense to go from getting a good shot to getting a great shot. Most of my touches have been in the low post, but I’m really all over the court more than I was in high school.
“There are a lot of ball screens, so you might set a pick to pop a shot. You are always looking to find the best shot possible.”
The Mules, who have gone 4-5 after starting 7-0, are always angling to do their best, Lowrance said.
“Things were going pretty well, then we had a rough patch,” said Lowrance, eyeing a major in sports management. “We need to come together and keep playing as a team.”
He will continue to do that in sharpening his offensive skills and honing his defensive style.
“I’ve improved my defense with better balance and more footwork,” Lowrance said. “Everybody on the coaching staff puts you in a position to succeed. I’m listening to them and I can hold my own defending inside. I’m using my basketball IQ to help me play better defense.”
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