San Antonio – One of the biggest holes on the St. Mary’s men’s basketball roster for next fall has been plugged.
Christian Bower, a standout point guard from Phoenix College, has signed on to play with the program, St. Mary’s head coach Jim Zeleznak announced Wednesday.
Bower, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound junior-to-be from Chandler, Ariz., was named to the NJCAA All-American Second Team after averaging 14.5 points and 7.3 assists as a sophomore at Phoenix College, where he played the last two seasons.
“It’s an area we need to shore up and we felt like for what we’re looking at, he’s a very good distributor and can score in a variety of ways,” Zeleznak said. “He’s very good in transition. There are a lot of different areas we really like, and we feel like he’ll be a really good fit here.”
The Rattlers are coming off a 19-9 season in which they won the Heartland Conference postseason championship and made their first national-tournament appearance since 2008, falling to eventual South Central Region champion Midwestern State in the opening round.
But while the majority of their roster will remain intact next fall, they will be without star point guard Lamb Autrey, who as a senior was named a second-team All-Heartland Conference selection.
Bower led the school to a 20-11 record, falling a single game short of making the NJCAA National Tournament. His 7.3 assists ranked sixth in the nation. He also shot 73.5 percent from the free-throw line and was named Second Team All-Conference and First Team All-Region.
“I don’t know if he’s a pass-first guy, but he averaged more than seven assists a game,” Zeleznak added. “From what we’ve seen on film and the coaches we’ve talked to, he’s a point guard who likes to distribute the basketball.”
Bower played his high-school basketball at Mesquite High School, where he graduated in 2010 after being named First Team All-Region as a senior. He led his team to the state tournament three consecutive years.
At Phoenix College, Bower’s squad made it to nationals as a freshman. He was named the playoffs Most Valuable Player that year and also chosen Third Team All-Conference.