The little guy from Rockbridge County High School has become a big-time scorer in the Big East.
Andrew Rowsey was named the Big East sixth man of the year last season, but the Marquette standout has made an even bigger accomplishment this season. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound point guard ranks fifth in the league in scoring with an average of 19.9 points.
Rowsey, a fifth-year senior who spent the first two seasons of his college career at UNC Asheville, credits his success to “never giving up.”
“When people tell you you can’t do something, it’s just [a matter of] going out and proving them wrong and getting to the places you’ve always wanted to be,” Rowsey said in a phone interview.
“All throughout my life, when people say you’re too small to do this, you’re just too little to play D-I, you just turn that into positive energy and dedicate yourself to that.”
Rowsey ranks among the top 250 scorers in Division I history with 2,211 career points, including 1,244 at UNC Asheville.
He has made more 3-pointers in his career (376) than any other active player in Division I men’s basketball.
No 3-pointer is too deep for him.
“When I think of Andrew Rowsey, I think of one word, and that’s fearless,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “He plays the game not scared of anyone or anything or any moment.
“[With] his deep range, his ability to go off the dribble and finish unconventionally or find teammates with threading-the-needle passes, he’s a fun player to watch. He’s tough to prepare for. He’s quick as all get out and he has unlimited range.”
When told of Mack’s “fearless” comment, Rowsey said his attitude stems from wanting to prove himself.
“I’ve always been fearless,” said Rowsey, who was a receiver for his high school football team. “I carry myself like that. … Always being underrated and undersized, no matter what sport I played, I always had it.”
He has scored at least 25 points in 11 games this season, including against such noteworthy foes as Villanova, Xavier, Purdue and Wichita State.
“I always knew if I could get to this stage and put myself in these situations, … my true colors would come out,” he said.
Trusting his shot
Rowsey was a three-time Timesland boys basketball player of the year in high school. He picked UNC Asheville over High Point and Richmond.
He averaged 20.3 points as a UNC Asheville freshman, when he was named the Big South freshman of the year and made the All-Big South first team. He averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore, when he made the All-Big South second team.
But he wanted to play in a major conference.
After sitting out the 2015-16 season under the NCAA’s transfer rules, Rowsey averaged 11.6 points for Marquette last season. He finished second on the squad in 3-pointers (71) and assists (73).
He started the final seven games last season, including an NCAA Tournament loss to South Carolina.
“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of since I was a kid,” Rowsey said of getting to play in the NCAAs.
Rowsey has started all but two games this season for the Golden Eagles (18-12, 9-9). He earned All-Big East honorable mention from the league’s coaches this week.
He has led the Golden Eagles in scoring 13 times this season.
“I’ve always had that mentality to get out and score,” he said.
Rowsey was named the Big East player of the week in recognition of his play in Marquette’s past two games. He had 28 points and 10 assists in an overtime win at Georgetown. He had 26 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in last weekend’s victory over visiting Creighton.
The win over Creighton was part of a memorable Senior Day for Rowsey, who was recognized in a pregame ceremony.
He drained six 3-pointers in the win, including three deep 3-pointers in the final four minutes. One was a 35-footer that Rowsey made from near the scorers’ table.
According to the Associated Press, Creighton coach Greg McDermott cracked after the game that “Rowsey had to shot-put a couple because he was so far out there.”
Rowsey ranks ninth nationally with a league-high 3-pointer average of 3.4 per game.
“’It’s about] trusting that every shot you take is a shot that you can make, a shot that you think’s going in,” said Rowsey, who has made 101 3-pointers this season. “You work on it so hard, you put so much craft into it, you want it to be good.”
‘Wired to score’
Rowsey’s performances last week were not his only impressive outings this season:
- In a loss to Xavier, he had 31 points and six 3-pointers.
- He had 35 points and six 3-pointers in a win over Georgetown.
- In a win over Seton Hall, he scored 31 points.
- He had 29 points and five 3-pointers in a loss to Villanova.
- In a win over St. John’s, he had 34 points, six 3-pointers, seven rebounds and six assists.
“When he’s playing well, our team is at our best,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “Andrew’s had a really good two-year run with us.”
Rowsey does not only hurt foes from the perimeter. He is not afraid to drive to the basket, even with bigger players patrolling the paint.
“It’s the most physical league by far I’ve ever played in,” Rowsey said. “So for me, it’s finding crafty ways to score around the basket, because there are much more athletic players, stronger players.”
When Rowsey gets fouled, he hurts teams from the free-throw line. He ranks 12th nationally in free-throw percentage (90.1 percent). He made all 16 of his free-throw attempts in a win over LSU, tying a Marquette record.
He broke the Big East career record for the best free-throw percentage in league regular-season play (93.1 percent).
“I practice free throws every day. It’s something I take serious,” he said. “It’s paying attention to the details and make sure you do use your fundamentals every time you shoot free throws.”
Rowsey ranks sixth in the Big East with an average of 4.7 assists.
“Andrew is a guy who’s wired to score, [but] our team is better when he’s a distributor first,” Wojciechowski said.
Marquette will be the seventh seed in the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. The Golden Eagles will face DePaul at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in a first-round game. They are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
Rowsey plans to graduate in May with a communication degree. He hopes to play professionally next season.
Some pro team might want a player whose mentality is “not taking no as an answer.”
“I’m not any more athletic than anybody else my size, so for me it’s just having that fearless mindset of when you set your mind to do something, you’re going to go out and do it,” he said.