Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Born as a refugee in Egypt, Taylor Bol Bowen grew up in Jericho, Vermont, a small town of just 5,000 people. He comes from a family of basketball players, with two older brothers having played basketball at the collegiate level. With a work ethic and a drive to get better, Bol Bowen began to make a name for himself this past season while playing with the Expressions Elite AAU program. Now standing 6’8”, Bol Bowen is starting to generate D1 interest as a versatile defender, with a rapidly improving offensive game, and he now holds offers from Iowa, George Mason, Bryant and Vermont. Bol Bowen is also an outstanding student and carries a clear appreciation for the history of the game.
In this interview, Bol Bowen talks about his older brothers, his strengths and weaknesses on the court, his past season with St. George’s School, his off-court interests, details his decision to reclassify, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect Taylor Bol Bowen, from Jericho, Vermont:
Pro Insight: Tell us about your background and your story? Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
Taylor Bol Bowen: I was actually born in Egypt. I was born as a refugee but my family moved to Vermont when I was younger, when I was two years old. Then I was adopted because my parents had a rough time. And even since then I’ve just been grinding, working hard and I just fell in love with the game playing with my older brothers.
PI: Can you talk a bit more about your brothers?
TBB: Yeah, my oldest brother Tinga [Adiang] played for St. Lawrence, he went to Vermont Academy and is just finishing up his degree. And my other brother Deng [Adiang], he plays at UVM and he’s here right now with me and we work out all the time together. He’s been a really good older brother, showing me what’s right from wrong and work ethic and habits.
PI: What did you take from the experience of being a refugee?
TBB: My takeaway is like, you just got to work hard, teaching me the value of hard work and you got to do everything you can to get to the point where I am now, from where I was.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
TBB: Yeah I played a little bit of football, but nothing crazy and I always just liked basketball. I played soccer when I was younger but it was always basketball for me since the start.
PI: Walk us through how this past high school season went for you?
TBB: It went really well actually, I couldn’t have asked for a better season. Had a great coach and some great teammates. My school isn’t a historical basketball school but we got a few recruits and just turned the page and became a really good basketball school, in my opinion. We started off really well, we beat St. Andrew’s, a good AA school and then we just started rolling and rolling. At one point, we had like a 19-game win streak, I want to say, 17, 16 something like that we were just winning and winning, playing well, playing good as a team. And I was able to develop a lot. I was working hard, waking up early and Coach taught me a lot. Just playing at a high level, just learning, he taught me so much.
PI: Describe your game. What are your strengths?
TBB: I believe my biggest strength is the ability to be versatile. So, when I first started I had trouble shooting, but then I was just waking up early every morning, getting shots up, form shooting, and I developed into a good outside 3-point shooter. And I just think that my versatility, I can do so much and defend multiple positions, I think that’s my biggest asset.
PI: What’s one part of your game that you are trying to improve?
TBB: I’ve been working a lot on my ball handling and my strength. My brother, his old coach Matt Elkin, we’ve been Facetiming him and he’s been putting in work with us, giving us handling drills so we’ve been doing that.
PI: How have you been able to work out and stay ready during this quarantine?
TBB: I actually have a family gym that I’ve been going to every day and getting shots up, working on my body and working on my handles.
PI: What went into your decision to reclassify from 2022 to 2023?
TBB: I was already very young for class of 2022. So, the way my path worked is that I joined the Expressions team and the Expressions program very late this season, after Peach Jam. They took me to a tournament, and took me to Hoop Group All-American Camp and I made a top-20 team there and then being super young, I was only 14-15 at the time, and then St. George’s reached out and said ‘we want you, you seem like this would be a good fit.’ And the assistant coach from my Expressions team also coaches at St. George’s, so I knew it was going to be a good fit because I really liked him and he always kept it real with me, Coach [Christopher] Ward, and it was perfect, just a good fit. And I decided I’m going to go here and I’m going to reclassify to 2023.
PI: What do you love most about the game of basketball?
TBB: I just love the beauty of it, you know what I mean, I don’t think there is anything like it. There is nothing like hitting a 3 or dunking on somebody and just getting the crowd wild. It’s up-tempo and fast paced, it’s just so fun to play.
PI: What has the recruiting process been like for you so far?
TBB: It’s been great. It’s been a learning curve for sure. At first, I just expected I would come here and work and just get offers. That was my mentality, but I absolutely switched that. It’s just a byproduct of winning and getting better. And then you’ll focus on the next level. But it’s been a great process, I would say.
PI: What are you looking for in a school?
TBB: I’m looking for a school that is going to put me in a position to get me into the NBA and give me good minutes, coming in, immediately. And I’m looking for a good school overall, like academically, because I have very good grades. I have like a 3.8 [GPA] I want to say, and I want to go to a school that is high academics so I can get a good degree, and you know I just want like a good school culture, all-around.
PI: Do you have a dream school that you would go to?
TBB: No, I actually don’t have a dream school, I could see myself playing at a lot of different colleges. It’s all about fit and the coaches and how they are going to use me and how I could play in their system.
PI: What would you do for a career if basketball wasn’t an option?
TBB: I never really thought about it like that, because I just love basketball so much...but if I wasn’t in the NBA I would probably want to be at least like an agent for basketball players or something, so I could at least be around the game. Work in the NBA front office, something like that.
PI: What are your thoughts on the recent high school-to-G-League trend?
TBB: I think it’s a really cool route for sure. I haven’t put any real thought into it because there’s a lot of things I don’t know about it, but it’ll be cool to see how guys like Jalen Green and Daishen Nix and Isaiah Todd and Kai Sotto turn out and see how the process really works. Could be one thing on paper but it could work out a different way.
PI: Do you watch more college or NBA basketball?
TBB: I just watch a lot of basketball. I grew up always watching and playing. I watch a lot of classics on NBA TV, that’s my favorite to watch I would say. I don’t think anything beats watching 90s basketball, that’s probably my favorite for sure.
PI: Is there anyone that you model your game after?
TBB: There’s definitely a few because those guys have been putting in a lot of hours. I model my game the most after, I would say, a lot of Scottie Pippen because of his versatility. He was like the first real point forward I would say. Then Kevin Durant because of how skilled he is and how big he is. And then Anthony Davis because he’s also a very underrated versatility guy, because you always label him as a big man but then you see him hit shots outside and defend like a 3.
PI: Who’s your all-time starting 5?
TBB: That’s tough, I mean there’s so many greats…point guard, I would have to say Magic Johnson. Shooting guard, of course Michael Jordan. Small forward, LeBron. Power forward and center is tough because there is so many bigs. My center position would definitely have to be Shaq. And the four position, that’s tough, because like being my body build, I would probably say Kevin Durant but I would also go with like a Tim Duncan.
82-0 right there.
PG: Magic Johnson
SG: Michael Jordan
SF: LeBron James
PF: Kevin Durant / Tim Duncan
C: Shaquille O’Neal
PI: Who is your basketball GOAT?
TBB: That’s tough…just watching The Last Dance and watching a lot of 90s basketball and seeing how dominant Michael was. But to me, I just think LeBron James is better. I mean, he’s 6’8” 250, he moves like a guard, can jump out of the gym. He can shoot now. I mean, my biggest thing, cause of how the game is much different, is that like LeBron can really shoot. Like I remember him vs. Zion where he pulled up from almost half court. You know what I mean? Michael was never stopping on a dime and pulling up from half court. And I just think that LeBron’s so great. Even what he does off the court is just amazing with the whole ‘I Promise’ school and everything he does for his community.
PI: What are some things you’ve been doing with your brother to stay ready?
TBB: A lot of ball handling. We’ll just do various ball handling drills that Coach Elkin provided us with. A little pocket passing, just pounding the ball for a while and just handling. And also to get stronger because I think that’s one of my biggest weaknesses. Just doing a lot of pushups and sit ups and resistance band work. I want to get up to 190-195 by next season so I can be a tank inside, too...so I can be even more versatile.
PI: What have you been doing outside of basketball during this quarantine?
TBB: Since I live in Vermont and I go to school in Rhode Island, I’m not home very often. So, I’ve just been spending a lot of time with my family, catching up. It’s been good to just be home for a little while and really seeing how people have changed. Like my little sister has grown up so much since I’ve been away and it’s nice to see her be a little more mature.
PI: What’s something that you aren’t able to do right now that you miss most?
TBB: Just playing pick up with the guys. We used to play pick up all the time. It was a good culture at school, we were really close. We’d just be playing pick up and it’d be competitive. Then we’d go eat dinner together and just joke around about what happened at pick up. That’s what I miss the most, I would say.
PI: Do you have any mentor figures in your life and what is one thing you have learned from them?
TBB: There’s a lot of people within basketball and outside basketball that I would say I really look up to. Definitely, obviously, of course LeBron. What’s he been doing building a school and providing a lot of kids that don’t really have access to education and food and what they need to be successful. He’s definitely one. My AAU coach, [Kenneth] Jackson, he’s kind of been like a father figure to me. Obviously being away from school, it’s hard to really have my dad here to guide me, he’ll call me and come up and see me and we’ll talk about things, he’s really been keeping my mind straight.
PI: What are four words that best describe Taylor Bol Bowen?
TBB: Smart. Funny. Caring. Kind.
PI: What’s your biggest passion outside of basketball?
TBB: Probably just watching movies. In my room, at least, we had a projector. And we watched a lot of movies. Especially since Disney+ came out at the time so we were watching like two movies a night sometimes and just chilling out, especially after working hard and doing our homework.
PI: What’s one movie you’ve seen recently that was really good?
TBB: I just watched Doctor Strange for the first time with my brother, last night actually. That was a really good movie.
PI: What pushes you to go hard every day?
TBB: I just want to make it so bad. I just have a drive, I think, that is like none other. It’s just within me, I want to say, that really makes me want to put my head down and just focus and focus and go 110%.
PI: Describe your life 10 years from now.
TBB: So, I’ll be 26…hopefully I’ll be an NBA champion by then. That’s what I really want to be, is an NBA champion. And just win as much as possible, get to the highest level. And be a good guy, hopefully have a degree, by then, too.
PI: What’s something about yourself that most people have no idea about?
TBB: I’m a very open guy, a lot of people know a lot about me. Small town guy, I’m from Northern Vermont [Jericho]. There’s only like four or five thousand people from my town. I don’t think a lot of people know that.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
TBB: I want to be remembered for always being great and being good for everything I did. And being a good guy. Back to the LeBron off the court thing, similar to that. How he was great both on and off the court, that’s how I want to be remembered — one of the greatest of all time.
PI: Is there anything you want to say about the Black Lives Matter movement?
TBB: Over the past few weeks we have seen the voice of the unheard. Many black Americans have come together to fight 400 years of racism. The Black Lives Matter movement is bringing light and enlightening many Americans to systemic racism. We must make progress as a country so my brothers and sisters feel equal in our country at all times. We must come together as one to fight this battle because we are all one race, the human race. Black, white, yellow, red, we are all beautiful people and need to be celebrated as equals. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” That applies more than ever today as we saw what happened in Minneapolis bring light to what’s happening across the country. We must unite and understand our country’s past to move forward as one, together forever.
Watch the full interview with Taylor, here