The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

March 16, 2013

Current women’s assistant Rowe among all-time Mountaineer greats

BECKLEY — Lester Rowe, in his second year as an assistant coach in the West Virginia women’s basketball program, was an outstanding player as a Mountaineer in the early 1980s.

The 6-foot-5, 195-pound forward from Buffalo, N.Y., played in 123 games. It took coach Gale Catlett just five games to decide that he earned a starting lineup job, which he never relinquished.

Rowe, who has lived here for several years, helped WVU to records of 27-4, 25-8, 20-12 and 20-9 between the 1981-82 season through the 1984-85 season.

That rounds out to a four-year aggregate of 90 wins and 33 defeats. And Rowe was a rare two-year team captain as a junior and senior.

Rowe, who turned 50 in January, was a basketball three-year all-state star at Buffalo’s Lafayette High School. He also excelled as a high jumper “just to keep in shape until basketball season rolled around again.”

He noted that the roundball sport wasn’t year-round as it is in high schools today. “But I did enjoy both basketball and track,” he admitted. “High jumping keeps you in shape.”

He recalled that he could play basketball in club games at the YMCA, the Boys Club or on similar courts during the off-season in Buffalo. Pick-up games were plentiful.

It was Dec. 18-19, 1981, when Rowe became a starter as a rookie collegiate, and he became an instant success. He led his team to victories against Manhattan and Long Island in the Mountaineer Classic at the Charleston Civic Center. The outstanding freshman earned the tournament’s MVP award.

He made several all-tournament teams, and all four of the Atlantic 10 all-conference teams, even as a rookie.

Rowe completed his four-year playing career here ranked No. 12 among all-time WVU scorers with 1,524 points.

Besides averaging 12.6 points per game, he shot a sizzling 54.9 percent from the field (593 of 1,095) and cashed 338 of 524 free throws for his 1,524 point-total.

Rowe also logged 787 rebounds (6.5 average per game) and 176 assists.

His career highs included 29 points vs. Rhode Island, 12 field goals vs. Marshall and Rhode Island, 21 field goal attempts vs. Marshall and UNLV, 12 free throws made vs. Rhode Island, 14 free throws attempted vs. Indiana, Pa., and 15 rebounds vs. Rutgers, Temple and Robert Morris.

He ranks among the career leaders in field goals made, field goal percentage and rebounds. He is a member of the1976-81 all-time WVU basketball team.

Rowe played professional basketball for eight years in Argentina, the Philippines, Venezuela, France, Germany and the U.S.

“My wife, Lisa, and I really enjoyed that experience. She accompanied me on that trip,” Rowe said.

He earned a bachelor of science degree from WVU in sport management in 1985.

He has been a commercial property manager and sales executive with the Parry Petroplus real estate firm since 2002.

Rowe served as an assistant basketball coach for Catlett’s coaching staff for five years and joined Mike Carey’s basketball women’s staff in June 2011.

Lester and Lisa have two daughters: Monalisa, 21, and Monique, 19.

“It’s a blessing just to be back working here and coaching at the university,” Rowe said. “I love WVU and I love this state.”

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