Berkmar senior Tim Rowe who stands 6-foot-11 and plays post for the Patriots competes against Grayson earlier this season. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
LILBURN — Tim Rowe arrived on Gwinnett’s basketball scene in a flash.
As a freshman, Rowe was a member of a Berkmar basketball team that shocked Region 8-AAAAAA with a stunning tournament victory. Rowe’s play mattered very much in the earning that championship. And in the repeat the following year.
But for a 6-foot-8 big man with a solid range away from the basket, the game was almost as new to Rowe as he was to Berkmar. Rowe moved to Lilburn from Henry County his freshman season and had just picked up basketball a year before.
“My dad was a football guy, he played football in high school,” Rowe said. “I just tried to follow his footsteps. I just started shooting around. I was in eighth grade, there was a little basket behind my sister’s old house and I just started shooting around. I pretty much ended up there every day and every night. That’s how I started.”
Since then, he’s just grown. Actually grown.
As a senior, Rowe stands at 6-11 and weighs a still slight 230, but well up from his ninth grade 185.
“He has developed in the weight room, he’s always worked, all four years, in the weight room to build his body up,” Berkmar head coach Greg Phillips said. “You put that together (with his talent) and that created the total package.”
Because Rowe’s first experiences with basketball were lonely shootarounds at his sister’s house, he came to the game with more touch than most big men practiced in looming over their opponents under the basket.
“One thing I was naturally good at, I had natural touch, I could always shoot it,” Rowe said. “I’ve been getting more aggressive with my back to the basket.
“It also benefitted me. I can be a little threat (outside the paint). The one thing I am really working on is putting it on the floor so I can really expand my inside production.”
Phillips doesn’t bemoan Rowe’s ability to shoot, rather he enjoys watching his standout center hit a 3-pointer or step back jump shot. But Phillips knows Rowe’s future is a good post move and dunk.
“There are not a lot of guys who can play with their back to the basket,” Phillips said.
Wherever he does his scoring, Rowe finds a way. He leads the Patriots in points and understands the pressures on a senior scorer.
“When I got here, we had a really great team, I was more of a role player,” Rowe said. “As the years have gone by I have become more of a leader. I put the team on my back more. (Earlier this season) during a tournament, against Lake County, I had to take over a little bit. I like the challenge. I think that’s my duty right now, to use my advantage.”
Though tall, Rowe speaks softly. He shows some emotion on the court, yet says very little. But Phillips insists in the locker room he’s slightly more extroverted.
“He’s quiet until you get to know him,” Phillips said. “He has slowly opened up and been great in our locker room and that type of thing.”
On the court, Rowe’s biggest growth has come defensively. Admittedly not a super athlete, Rowe spends plenty of time practicing his footwork to improve his quickness and the improvement has been so great Phillips said he’s comfortable if Rowe ends up defending a much shorter guard on the perimeter.
“He can get out and guard someone on the 3-point line,” Phillips said. “He’s not a liability.”
Quite the opposite. In his four seasons at Berkmar, Rowe represented the improvement in Phillips’ program.
“Since I’ve been here he’s been that guy, that staple in our offense and defense,” Phillips said. “Anytime you have a guy like that that has been around your program for for years it’s special to have.”