“Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination...” - Aubrey Drake Graham.
The journey basketball has taken Cartier Bowman on has been amazing thus far. Cartier played basketball casually in his early years, but started taking hoops seriously in the 8th grade. Bowman was a quick learner with uncanny athleticism for his age. The upside was clear that Cartier had a future in basketball. - Words by Christian Mordi / @thedribbledrop on Instagram
Cartier played varsity basketball at Nottingham High School as a freshman. For the first time in his life, he was playing against competition that was just as big as him.”The jump to varsity as a freshman was pretty hard,” said Cartier. “Some nights I went up against older kids who were bigger, which was new to me.” While many would fold under the pressure of playing at that speed at such a young age, Cartier rose to the occasion and got better as the season progressed. “I never stopped working hard. I kept pushing.”
The summer between Cartier's freshman and sophomore year was full of excitement, as he started to play AAU basketball for the Tim Thomas Playaz. “That summer was big for me,” said Bowman. "I played on a team with Jalen Carey, Paul Mulcahy and Al-Amir Dawes. We made it to the Final Four of the EYBL 16U. We lost to Nike Team Florida with Vernon Carey.” After playing that summer with The Playaz, Cartier decided to transfer high schools and play for Montclair Immaculate. “I thought going to school in North Jersey would give me more chances of exposure,” said Cartier. “I went to play at Immaculate under Jimmy Salmons, who was my AAU director.” The team ended up with a record of 14-14, but Cartier learned a lot from that season. “It was hard because I was away from home a lot. It was good for me though because it helped me mature.”
After his sophomore year, Cartier decided to play closer to home for Notre Dame High."I didn’t want my family to have to travel an hour to see me play anymore," said Bowman. "Coming back home meant a lot to me. I wanted to show people down here how hard I had worked and what I could do in this area as well." Bowmans’ junior year was a huge success. The Irish were one of the best in the state and was set to return a lot of talent from a top 15 team in New Jersey in 2017. Cartier spent the spring of his junior year playing AAU for a team sponsored by Under Armour named Team Rio. Cartier spoke fondly of the experience, saying “It was a great. I played alongside some of the top players in the country. Playing with those guys showed me where my game was and showed me I could play on that level. My confidence went up a lot this summer.” The head coach for his team was former Rutgers head coach Mike Rice. Having coached on the collegiate level, Rice does a great job preparing players with the right tools to succeed during the next phase of their careers. Brian Klatsky, who is the head of Team Rio, spoke on the high character and talent of Cartier saying, “Cartier works as hard as anyone in the program and has a true passion to real his fullest potential,” said Klatsky.
Just when it seemed as if the team was turning the corner, tragedy struck. A mass exodus of players from the basketball team happened during the summer. Their head coach, Bob Turco, also decided to resign from his post before the season started.
Stuck at a crossroad, Cartier sat down with his family to discuss his future. "When I found out that a lot of people were leaving, my mom and I had a long discussion, " said Bowman. "We decided that staying at Notre Dame was the best fit for me." When asked why he decided to stay, Cartier stated that he was ready to be the true leader of a team. “I always wanted to be the main guy,” said Bowman. “Someone who in the last few minutes you trusted the ball with to step up and make a play. I wanted to be a player who led my team.”
Luckily for Cartier, the program didn’t need to find a new head coach, as their athletic director was more than qualified to take on the job. Prep Athletic Director Rich Roche had coached for over 20 years. Roche has coached at Division 1, Division 2, JUCO and high school. Coach Roche and Cartier had already developed a good relationship during his time as the athletic director. Roche and Cartier had a long talk before the season got underway. “I told him when we started this thing, there are two people that couldn’t afford to have a bad day,” said Coach Roche. “ I asked him if he knew who they were, and Cartier said “Me and you coach.” “He was right on the money."
Cartier rolled the dice on himself this year and the results were amazing. Bowman has averaged 27 points per game, good for 3rd overall in the state of New Jersey. Defensively he’s no slouch either, posting a steal and a block per game as well. His impact in the CVC is undeniable. Cartier is a lock for CVC player of the year and should be considered for county player of the year. Team Rio director Brian Klatsky isn't surprised one bit at the season Cartier is having. "The high level of success Cartier has accomplished on the floor this season is the result of all the work he has done." At 11-11, Notre Dame has also qualified for the state tournament. Coach Roche spoke highly of Bowman saying “I love motor Cartier has. He can rebound and score at will. His athleticism is off the charts. Cartier is a kid that will play hard for 32 minutes and if needed, he will give you 32 after that.”
At the moment, Cartier isn’t committed, but he’s gardening interest from numerous division one programs. The talented slasher isn’t in a rush to go to college just yet though. Bowman will probably do a year of prep school. When asked what type of program he’s looking for on the next level, Cartier said “I want to be apart of a program that feels like I’m home. I want to fit well in that system skill wise. Somewhere I can call home.”
Cartier Bowman put the team in front of his own personal needs this year. He stayed home and has thrived in the system. How could you not root for a kid like Carti?