By MARCUS HELTON
While nearly every top player has a profile page on a recruiting site, Loudon Valley (Va.) 2014 forward Paul Rowley decided to take it a step further.
Last summer, Rowley and his father Sean sat down and put together PaulRowley.net, a web site dedicated to giving college coaches every piece of info they’d ever need to have on him: height (6-foot-7 ¼ in shoes), contact info, grade point average (currently an eye-popping 4.42), NCAA Clearinghouse ID, video highlights, schedules, news updates and more.
“Last summer, we were trying to find a little bit of time to work on some iPhone programming stuff together,” Paul Rowley said. “I don’t know, it’s one of the cool things about being smart; I’m in AP Computer Science this year, and programming is cool to be able to do yourself. And it’s an easy website to remember: PaulRowley.net. You don’t have to go through hundreds of recruiting web sites to search for me; it’s just off the top of the head.”
While the site has aided in drawing scouts’ interest, Rowley’s play on the floor is what’s made the biggest impact. He has scholarship offers from Division I Mount St. Mary’s and Quinnipiac, with interest from West Virginia, William & Mary and a handful of Ivy and Patriot League programs.
Rowley, 16, is currently second in scoring (16.5 points per game) and hit 37 3-pointers for a Loudon Valley squad that started 18-0 this season before dropping two of its last three. The Vikings close the regular season tonight at Tuscarora.
A Loudon County native, Rowley – who plays his AAU ball with Thomas Gadson’s Virginia Elite program – played the first five games of his freshman year on the junior varsity before being called up, and has remained a varsity fixture ever since.
“I didn’t really want to go [to a private school],” he said, “because it’s such a great group of guys and I thought we’d have the chance to be good. I’d be lying to say I never thought about it, but if we weren’t such a competitive team I could be elsewhere, but we’re ranked in the DMV Top 20 right now. We’re up there right now, which is good for a public school.”
In our latest DMV Elite Q&A, Paul Rowley discusses his athletic and academic life, his recruitment, this year’s success and more:
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A SCHOOL? “I definitely want to go somewhere that sets me up for later in life, but I also want to go somewhere with a competitive basketball program, ’cause my guess is I’m not going to do too much outside of basketball in college, and I’ve got to make sure I’m happy there.”
DO YOU HAVE A TIMETABLE FOR DECIDING? “I actually have no idea. Right now I’m just trying to take it game-by-game.”
DID YOU GROW UP PLAYING ANY OTHER SPORTS? “I was a soccer player for a long time; I started playing basketball in fourth or fifth grade. I was a tall, awkward kid and they shoved me in the post and it didn’t really work out, and I taught myself how to shoot and dribble.”
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT THE GAME? “I really just like to compete at everything, and this is one place where – I mean, I’m physically meant to play basketball: I’m a good athlete and I’m 6-foot-7 – this is the right sport for me.”
WHAT AREAS ARE YOUR TRYING TO IMPROVE THE MOST IN? “I definitely need to improve lateral movement and I need to be able to guard better [on the perimeter]. Especially in the Dulles District, I have lots of success as a shot blocker playing inside, but at the next level, that’s not going to be who I am. I’m either going to be on the wing or a mismatch 4 kind of guy, so I definitely need to work on perimeter defense.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME? “I’m really on the court, like, a ridiculous amount of time when I’m out of the house. Outside of basketball is a smaller part of my life. Loudoun Valley basketball is kind of like a family right now, so if we’re not practicing together we’re hanging out together.”
HAVE ACADEMICS ALWAYS BEEN A KEY FOCUS FOR YOU? “I’ve always been a good student, but if I didn’t bring home a great report card I don’t know if my Mother would let me play basketball. School is definitely a priority, and basketball comes second – to here, at least. I’m definitely a math guy, and in college I probably want to look towards some sort of engineering program.”
WHAT IS YOUR MOST CURRENT GPA? “Right now I think I have a 4.42. I’m second in my class. Lots of AP’s and A-plusses. I got my first B+ last semester [Editors’s note: Rowley said it was the first B he’s ever received in his life], and I can tell you my Mom isn’t thrilled about it. It’s becoming a lot to me, and of between school and basketball, the course load picks up when basketball picks up, but it’s a good feeling and I’ve got to learn it for college anyway.”
DID YOU EXPECT THE TEAM TO BE SO SUCCESSFUL THIS SEASON? “I mean, I think looking around we knew we had the talent to be a top team, but I mean, I think our current success just speaks to the hard work everybody’s put in. Everybody makes a lot of sacrifices, and we could all be taking more shots or scoring more points, but we’re all kind of sacrificing that to do better as a team.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY PRE-GAME RITUALS/SUPERSTITIONS? “Before games, I like to be the first one dressed. I like to be completely ready to play, like, as soon as possible. I like to zone out, put my headphones in and kind of lose track of the world and think about what I’m going to do tonight to help the team get a victory. I get real serious for a little bit of time, and then some time during warm-ups I kind of relax and put a big goofy smile on and laugh and start to have fun.”
HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN LIKE THAT? “I’ve always liked to play with a smile. I’ve found that nothing irritates a defender more than scoring on him and then just laughing at him. Nobody like that.”
IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR ROAD VENUE YOU ENJOY VISITING? “I actually prefer away games. I love being in a crowded gym, and I love that I get to make a play and the other team’s fans just go quiet and all you can hear is the shoes squeaking and the ball bouncing – that is the best feeling in basketball. I’m excited to go play down at Potomac Falls, because that will be a heavily contested game, but really anywhere where the other school brings a lot of fans and we don’t – I like ruining everybody’s night, basically.”
Top and bottom photos provided by Sean Rowley. Middle pic by Charles Matthews for DMV Elite/RH Media Group.