Getting cut from a competitive basketball team in seventh grade didn't kill Skyview senior Josh Rowell's desire. It only made it stronger.
"Not making that team drove me to keep getting better," said Rowell, Skyview's leading scorer and rebounder this year. "I practiced that summer, and then I made the team the next year.
"Ever since then, I've practiced every summer to get better."
Rowell started playing basketball in sixth grade, and Skyview senior guard Mark McGarry, who also attended Soldotna Middle School, remembers how quickly Rowell improved.
"If you would have asked me if he would be as good as he is today in the seventh grade, I would have said, 'No way,'" McGarry said. "If you would have asked me in eighth grade, I would have said, 'Definitely.'
"After he didn't make the team in seventh grade, he used that and worked hard in the summer. It's kind of like the Michael Jordan thing."
Jordan, of course, used getting cut in high school to fashion his infamous work ethic. While nobody thinks Rowell is on his way to six NBA championships, there's also no questioning Rowell's work ethic.
"The first thing I noticed, when he was a freshman, was his work ethic," Skyview coach Dave Blossom said of his center. "I remember telling (then-varsity head coach) Erling (Hofseth), 'That kid's going to be a star here some day if he keeps doing what he's doing.'"
And right up to his senior year, in regards to work ethic, Rowell has kept doing what he was doing as a freshman.
"He's usually one of the first guys to practice, and while we're here, he's working as hard as anybody in practice," Blossom said. "I also always get home late because he's out there after practice shooting and dribbling.
"He also comes to every open gym he can. He's one of the few guys that's always out there shooting."
Beth Rowell, Joshua's mother, said her son's work ethic comes from the fact that Beth and Josh's father, Craig, are laborers.
Beth, who is divorced from Craig, also said Josh learned a lot from a 1994 motorcycle accident in which Beth lost 20 years of memory.
"Josh has been a rock for me," Beth said. "I think it helped him learn to capture moments. He captures every moment he can by doing whatever he can.
"Now, he's not so apt to lose what someone tells him. He fights to keep on going all the time."
Rowell's mental fortitude becomes all the more dangerous to Panthers opponents due to Rowell's physical gifts.
For starters, he stands 6-foot-3 due to a 3-inch growth spurt before the start of his junior year.
"We're not sure about where his height came from," Beth said. "Both sides of the family say there's not really an overly tall person anywhere in the family."
Also contributing to the 21 points per game and 12.2 rebounds per game Rowell is averaging this year is his 41-inch vertical leap. Even though Rowell was only 6-0 at the time, he was dunking by the end of his freshman year.
"He still has to come to realize how good he is," Blossom said. "He doesn't realize how good he can be out there, yet. He'll continue to improve as he continues to get confident in himself."
Skyview soccer coach Dave Carpenter echoes that sentiment.
"He's such a great kid that he's actually too modest to a fault," Carpenter said. "One of these days, when he wakes up and realizes what a dominant kid he could be athletically, it'll be a real eye-opener for him."
An indication of Rowell's athletic ability came last season in soccer. He had never played goalie before last year, but the team didn't have a goalie so he stepped into the box.
Although he had no time to hone his technique, Rowell still earned second-team all-region honors at the position.
"It was just his athletic ability -- his wingspan, his intelligence and his competitive nature," Carpenter said.
Rowell also brings his intelligence and his work ethic to the classroom, where he has a 3.7 grade point average. He said his favorite subject was math, until he ran into calculus this year.
He's not sure of his college plans yet.
"We're trying to find him a school," Blossom said. "We're sure that a junior college or a small four-year school could use somebody like him."
Rowell said, in the end, he's not as concerned with playing basketball at school as he is with getting an education.
"I've worked a lot of private construction jobs," Rowell said. "It was great pay, but we work long days and it's hard work.
"I don't think it's something I want to be doing for the rest of my life."
Whatever Rowell ends up doing, his coaches and parents think his attitude will make him successful.
"He's the kindest, most generous young man I know," Beth said. "He would never hurt a soul.
"I just hope his future is the best he can make it."
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