Simon Kenton girls’ basketball coach Jeff Stowers is patriarch of Northern Kentucky’s first family of basketball. The Northern Kentucky University legend was in the second class of inductees into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999. He played for the Norse from 1972-76 and scored 1,410 points, which ranks 11th all-time.
He helped transform obscure Northern Kentucky State College into a regional power as he led the Norse to a 17-9 record during his senior season. He later married a Norse cheerleader (Mary). Stowers fathered three NKU basketball players – Keith Green, Brenden Stowers and Jordan Stowers. Brenden, an All-American in 2003, has coached at Simon Kenton and NKU. Another son, Evan Stowers, played basketball at Simon Kenton and was an All-America diver at Georgia Tech. Daughter Taylor also played basketball for the Pioneers.
Jeff Stowers, a former Enquirer boys’ coach of the year at Seven Hills, entered this season needing 13 wins to reach 300 in his career. He recently filled in the blanks with contributor Marc Hardin.
You’ve had success with both boys and girls teams. The biggest difference between the genders, from a coaching standpoint, is ... You can give the girls a pattern and they will stick to that pattern. And if they have the talent, they can be successful with it. Guys think they know it all and you have to keep working on the pattern.
The two Northern Kentucky girls teams that challenge you the most year after year are ... Boone County and Newport Central Catholic. You know Nell (Fookes) and Ron (Dawn) are going to have their teams prepared. Nell can take a really good player and build around her, and she can fit the pieces when she doesn’t have that girl. I played against Ron at NKU when he played for Thomas More and he was very tough, and he molds the team in his image.
The best men’s player in NKU history is ... That’s a tough one because there’s been a lot of guys over time. Craig Sanders is the all-time leading scorer. Carl Mitchell, who played with my sons, is still playing pro ball in Israel, and he was a very good player. I’m going to have to leave that one open.
NKU is going Division I. The number of years it will take the men’s basketball team to reach the NCAA tournament will be ... I’m going to give them seven years. You’ve got the four they have to wait, and then I think it will take at least three more to compete at that level. They’re going to get smacked around and take those big paydays and that will help with the recruiting budget, which is so important. They’ve got a gorgeous place to play, and this is such a great area to sell. It’s a major league town with the Reds and Bengals. You’re going to draw some kids even with UC and Xavier in the picture.
The most daunting challenge facing NKU as it ramps up to D-I is ... The recruiting has to change. At D-II, you wait for the good ones to drop off. Now, you go out and get those front-line D-1 players. NKU knows the kind of kids they want. It doesn’t have to be a big No. 1 kid because they have a good system they can fit guys in. You might get the No. 1 to build the program around and you might get the lunch-pail guys. It’s all about finding the right pieces, and it’s going to be a lot tougher now. But I think they’ll do it.