Incoming Santa Clara freshman basketball player Raymond Cowels (RC) is already a Santa Clara University student after graduating from high school in June. The 6-4, 205lb. forward was first-team all-state honoree his junior and senior years. His final season he averaged 13.1 ppg and 4.5 rpg when his Hopkins team won the state title, celebrating an undefeated season with a 69-59 victory over Osseo. The Osseo team included Gonzaga signee forward Sam Dower.
Cowels, a Mr. Minnesota Basketball finalist, talks below about his classwork at Hopkins High School and Santa Clara, what a Heart-O-Gram is and why he did it, how active he was in high school off the court and what he looks forward to as a Bronco.
Welcome Raymond Cowels!
SCU: Where you named after someone in particular?
RC: I was named after my father who was named after his grandfather so I am Raymond Cowels III.
SCU: How does it feel to be done with high school?
RC: It is a good feeling. I was kind of ready to be done so it is nice to move on to the next level.
SCU: What classes are you taking this summer and how are you doing so far?
RC: I am taking Theology of the Christian Religion and a History class. They are pretty good and I enjoy both of them. I am doing fine in both of them.
SCU: How is studying for college different from studying for high school?
RC: There is more lecturing in college and you have to learn things on your own. The teachers are give the information and you have to be able to process it yourself.
SCU: Is that how you like to work in school or would you like to learn a different way?
RC: It definitely takes some time getting used to. I am used to it because I took a lot of Advanced Placement (A.P.) classes in high school. I like it a lot more because I learn more if I learn something by myself.
SCU: How did going to Hopkins high school (Minnetonka, Minn.) prepare you for college life?
RC: It prepared me pretty well. Hopkins High School is well-known academically in Minnesota. It has prepared me for the classes I will take because I have experienced the level that I will be at academically in college the first year.
SCU: What is the best part about graduating from high school?
RC: The best part is being done. It is a bittersweet feeling but I am excited to move on to college.
SCU: What other activities did you take part in other than basketball?
RC: I didn't play any other sports. They wanted me to play football but I told them no because I love basketball. I was in a group called "Dare To Be Real," which is an anti-racism leadership group. We went around to grade schools and made children aware of racism and other stereotypes that go on in the world today. We talked to little kids and they seemed to enjoy it and I got a lot out of it. It was eye-opening.
SCU: And you lettered in something else for a year. Talk about that
RC: (Big Smile) I lettered in choir my senior year. I took choir all through high school and junior high. It was a nice break from everyday studying and classes. It was nice to go and sing and have some fun. I was a part of an a cappella choir and an eight man group. I also used to sing Heart-O-Grams at school on Valentines Day.
SCU: Who has impressed you the most so far on the team after playing in open gyms and working camps?
RC: Everyone has impressed me. Everyone is playing better than my first impressions and it is a whole different level. I am excited to keep playing with these guys and keep getting better with them.
SCU: Is there an adjustment playing with these guys everyday?
RC: Yes. I am getting used to playing against them more and more. The game is really physical. The court is a little bigger so you have to run a little bit longer and it is harder to get a shot off but everything is going well.
SCU: How is the team chemistry?
RC: The chemistry is really good on this team. We didn't lose a game last season at Hopkins so I know what it feels like to be on a winning team. The camaraderie is great so I think we should have a winning season.
SCU: Any predictions for next year?
RC: It will be fun to see what happens and what we can do with next year. I think we are going to be pretty tough to beat. We have a lot of good freshmen coming in and the guys coming back are talented. It should be a really good experience and we are hoping to get to the tournament.
SCU: What some reasons that you chose Santa Clara?
RC: The atmosphere and the coaches are great. Coach Ware and Coach Keating recruited me and I fell in love with them when I talked to them on the phone. The academics were a big thing and Santa Clara is a prestigious school. The weather was also important because I come from Minneapolis where it gets really cold.
SCU: What is your goal when you leave college?
RC: My goal is to play professional basketball somewhere whether it is in the NBA or overseas. My back up plan is to be a financial planner or an owner of a bank. I wanted to be an owner of a bank since I was in fourth grade. When I was in fourth grade, I went into a bank, talked to the owner and I needed a dollar for the vending machine. He pulled out a wad of cash and he had hundred dollar bills crumpled up in his wallet like it was nothing. From then on I always wanted to own a bank.
SCU: Speaking of Coach Keating has he said anything that has stuck in your mind?
RC: He told me we are going to be contenders this year. He also told me that I was not necessarily the guy who stuck out most on the court but he really liked my work ethic. That stuck in my mind and grounded me. I make sure I work hard all of the time. If he likes my effort and I work hard I will be able to go places.
SCU: Anyone you want to thank?
RC: Yea, I want to thank my mom and my dad and all my family for believing in me and helping me through the first stage of my life.
I also want to thank my coaches because I was a big man up until my sophomore year at Hopkins. My coach told me that I needed to be able to shoot the ball better and I thank him and all the people who helped me deal with all the little things. Coaches Ken Novak, Amos, Jarred Nunez, Dale Stall and all of them
SCU: Favorite color?
SCU: Favorite movie?
RC: Love and Basketball and Transformers
SCU: Favorite TV show?
RC: Don't have one
SCU: Favorite book?
RC: Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson