Former area basketball standout D.J. Bowles, who now attends Oldsmar Christian School in Tampa, Fla., recently committed to play collegiately at Wichita State.
Bowles spent his ninth-grade year at Notre Dame, then transferred to Cleveland High. As a junior he averaged 17.9 points, 3.1 assists and four rebounds for the Blue Raiders, who advanced to the Region 3-AAA quarterfinals.
He committed to the University of Central Florida in March but backed out over the summer, saying his relationship with UCF coach Donnie Jones wasn't "strong enough." The program was hit hard with self-imposed and NCAA sanctions this past summer.
Now Bowles will join one of the top mid-major programs in America. The Shockers won the 2011 National Invitation Tournament. Last season, they won 27 games and earned a five-seed in the NCAA tournament, falling by three points to Virginia Commonwealth in the first round.
"The players treated me very well on my visit," Bowles said. "They took me in and treated me like one of their own. The coach recruited me hard, and in the end I thought it was the best situation. Their style of play fits my game, and that's a big thing."
Oldsmar Christian is 2-1 so far this season.
Bowles' academic eligibility for college was a concern, and he said he "really had to get my grades where they needed to be" but has done that.
"I'm doing well right now," he said. "I'm doing what I love to do. Wichita State made me feel like one of them, and when they brought me in they made me feel like a part of the family, and that was a real big thing."