Former Orioles hoops standout overcame the wait
Sam Dower Jr.’s basketball career has been one of waiting and making the most of opportunities.
“Starting at a young age, the minutes weren’t given to me, and that’s what got me motivated, trying to get better every day,” Dower said.
Dower posted stellar senior seasons at Osseo High School and later Division I Gonzaga. He will now await hearing his name called in this year’s NBA Draft on Thursday.
“It definitely would be a good thing not only for me and my family, but also everyone who supports Osseo basketball,” Dower said.
At Osseo, Dower did not see varsity action until the midpoint of the season and averaged just 2.5 points per game and only 1.6 boards per game. He improved by leaps and bounds in his junior season of 2007-08. He scored 13.4 points per game and grabbed 5.6 boards each time out in a 28-1 season, which ended in the section finals.
“Eventually, each year, I got better and better,” Dower said.
Dower’s senior season made his mark in the college recruiting landscape. He averaged a double-double with 23.9 points per game and 11.5 rebounds, and he blocked 3.3 shots per game. Midwest schools such as the University of Minnesota, Iowa and Marquette. Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash. out west showed interest too, and a visit there sold Dower.
“Spokane had a good home feeling,” Dower said.
Waiting again became the name of the game for Dower though. He red-shirted his freshman season and came off the bench the following year in 2010-2011. He made his first big splash for the Zags with a 27-point game against San Diego. He also helped the Zags reach the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
As a sophomore, Dower continued to contribute off the bench. He came up with a big double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds at Xavier during the regular season. Dower also posted nine points in the 2012 NCAA Tournament third round when the Zags played Ohio State.
In his junior season, Dower mostly played off the bench with an average of 6.9 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game. He had a 20-point game at Butler and had an 18-point, nine-rebound game against Pacific. He helped the Zags earn a No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
As a senior, Dower average 14.6 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game as he broke into the starting lineup and led the Zags in scoring and rebounding. The graduation of top scorers Kelly Olnyk and Elias Harris set up that opportunity. In addition, Dower became a fiercer rebounder.
During his time at Gonzaga, Dower got to play alongside David Stockton, the son of NBA great John Stockton.
Since graduating from Osseo in 2009, Dower has maintained contact with his former coach, Tim Theisen. He recently came back to visit when in town between workouts with NBA teams.
“He started me off, and he’s still there,” Dower said. “Any help I need, he’s always there for me.”
Dower, now a 6-9, 243-pound center, will wait to see if he becomes the first Osseo alumnus in the school’s 80-year history to be drafted in the NBA. A long line of talented and driven Orioles have come before him, but none made it further than the pro leagues in Europe.
“The guys that come [to Osseo], they want to pick up where those guys left off,” Dower said.