By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Brett Bowling spent his childhood hearing of the basketball tradition of Wyoming County. To Mullens specifically, the D’Antoni family has of course been instrumental to much of the mystique.
Now, Bowling has a chance to play for one.
The former standout at Wyoming East accepted an invitation Friday to walk on to the men’s basketball program at Marshall. Mullens native Danny D’Antoni was hired April 24 as the team’s new head coach.
Bowling said he is an invited walk-on but will have a chance to earn a scholarship.
“I am unbelievably excited,” Bowling said. “I thank God for this opportunity. Without Him it wouldn’t be possible. And I am so thankful to coach D’Antoni for giving me this chance to play.”
Bowling spent this past season at Fork Union Military, where he made the transition from post to a combination two/point guard. He graduated from Wyoming East in 2013, when he averaged 16.9 points per game en route to Class AA third-team all-state honors.
Several Mountain East Conference schools were showing interest in Bowling, but the chance to follow D’Antoni to Huntington was too much to pass up.
“Playing Division I is every kid’s dream,” said Rory Chapman, Bowling’s coach at Wyoming East. “We are all excited that he is getting that chance. He’s a great kid.”
Chapman expects Bowling to be a valuable asset for the Thundering Herd.
“They are getting a guy who likes basketball. He’s a gym rat,” Chapman said. “He is one of the hardest workers out there. He has a whole lot of potential.”
Bowling knows all about the D’Antoni lineage. Danny and his little brother, Mike, are both members of the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame. Mike has spent the last decade as an NBA head coach in Denver, Phoenix, New York and with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Danny was his assistant before he was hired at Marshall.
Mike resigned as Lakers head coach April 30, leading to immediate speculation that he might soon reverse roles and become Danny’s assistant with the Herd.
Danny hired his first assistant last week, bringing on former Duke star and former Laker Chris Duhon for his first coaching job.
Bowling said his time at Fork Union was beneficial.
“I really learned a lot,” he said. “I was able to develop my game, and I got more experience against that type of competition day in and day out.”
Bowling said D’Antoni taking the job was a factor in his decision to walk on at Marshall rather than take a scholarship offer from a conference school.
“That played a big role,” Bowling said. “I am so excited to learn from someone like him, who coached in the NBA. Plus, he’s from Mullens.
“I’ve heard nothing but great things about the D’Antoni family.”
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