D.J. Bowles remains at Wichita State and is taking classes and attending practices while he decides on his future.
The university denied Bowles medical clearance to play basketball for WSU last week. He collapsed during a practice Sept. 3. On Sept. 12, he underwent surgery to implant an electrical impulse at the Mayo Clinic. When he collapsed, trainer Todd Fagan used a defibrillator and CPR to revive Bowles.
“He has not decided what he wants to do,” WSU athletic director Eric Sexton said. “We’re going to give him the space to do that.”
Bowles can attend WSU on scholarship for as long as he chooses. Coach Gregg Marshall said Bowles has an offer to work with the team as a student assistant coach. He could transfer to another school and attempt to get medical clearance.
“We would love to see him get his degree here,” Marshall said. “I told him he’s going to be great at something else. I’m excited to see what that is. He’s probably got some things that he’s got to work out in his mind. It’s totally in his hands now, and it’s not a time-sensitive issue.”
Bowles, a point guard from Cleveland, Tenn., likely would have served as WSU’s main backup to sophomore Fred VanVleet.
“He had been waiting his whole life to get to this point, to play at this level,” Marshall said. “It’s a tough, unfortunate situation for him, from a basketball perspective.”
After this school year, his scholarship would not count against the NCAA limit of 13 for men’s basketball. WSU, according to associate athletic director Korey Torgerson, is preparing to ask the NCAA for a waiver that would allow it to award Bowles’ scholarship next semester. If approved, WSU could give that scholarship to a current walk-on or a transfer.
“We do plan to submit a waiver to NCAA to request that he be a non-counter for the current academic year,” Torgerson said. “That would allow us to potentially grant his scholarship to another individual for the spring semester.”
Marshall praised the quick work by Fagan to revive Bowles.
“Todd, and his staff, with the help of that (defibrillator) were unbelievable in terms of their response,” he said. “We were all panicked. It was a tough thing to witness. I’m talking to D.J., ‘Please breathe, breathe, stay with us.’ Just trying to coach him and coaching doesn’t do much good right then.”
On Marshall’s first trip as Shocker coach in April 2007, he watched recruit Guy Alang-Ntang die after collapsing during a pickup game in New Hampshire.
“I‘ve seen this twice now, in 6 1/2 years as a coach here,” he said. “This, so far, has a happy ending. The first time did not.”
He estimated Morris missed about 70 percent of summer and fall workouts with a variety of injuries, most seriously a concussion. While he expects all the other Shockers to practice Sunday, he isn’t sure about Morris.
“You’ll have to ask Shaq,” Marshall said. “It’s like the game ‘Operation.’ The funny bone and the ham bone and the knee bone. He’s got a lot of those. I’ve never been around an individual that had more a variety of injuries. I bet there’s been 15 different injuries.”
Junior forward Darius Carter, a 6-foot-7 transfer from Vincennes (Ind.) University should step into a big role. Freshman guard Ria’n Holland’s role may grow as a backup guard with Bowles’ absence.
“(Carter) really works hard and does what you ask him to do,” Marshall said. “He’s a pleaser and he’s trying to pick things up. Ria’n Holland has gained some weight and gotten some strength and he’s another guy that does exactly what we’ve asked him to do. He’s trying to be in the rotation and not redshirt.”
Marshall is worried the unusual time will keep some fans at home. While he understands the challenges that hour presents for work and school, he doesn’t want thousands of empty seats.
“I want to get this out there now,” he said. “I’m hoping, somehow, the season-ticket holders that are not planning on coming to that game can find a way to sell or give their tickets away. That’s an appeal that I’m making.”
WSU will play on Fox Sports Kansas City, and other regional networks, on Jan. 5 against Northern Iowa, Feb. 5 at Indiana State and Feb. 16 at Evansville.
WSU’s women’s team will play Drake on Jan. 20 and Illinois State on Feb. 21 on Fox Sports Kansas City. Its game at Evansville on Feb. 27 could be chosen for broadcast.