AUBURN | Marianna (Fla.) Chipola Junior College power forward Cinmeon Bowers has made his decision.
Only hours after officially visiting Auburn, Bowers committed to the Tigers. He becomes the first commitment of the Bruce Pearl era.
"I actually committed on Saturday," Bowers told AuburnSports.com. "That's big-time. 'BP' coached in Milwaukee so he's cool with my AAU coaches. They have a relationship, so that's a plus. Chuck Person is going to be good, and Coach Tony Jones. When I told the coaches my decision, they were excited."
Bowers did not speak with head Coach Pearl because of the NCAA's show-cause limitations. Pearl is prohibited from speaking with any prospects, either high school, junior college or potential transfers.
The inability to speak with the head coach of the program you are committing to would be an obstacle for many prospects, but that wasn't the case for Bowers. He placed complete trust in the long relationship between Jones and Pearl.
"Coach Pearl and Coach Jones have a relationship for 20 years. Whatever Coach Jones says, Coach Pearl says," Bowers said.
Bowers averaged 12.4 points and nine rebounds per game this season. Bowers is ranked a three-star prospect by Rivals.com and regarded as one of the top overall junior college prospects nationally.
The Tigers are in need of an impact player at power forward and Bowers plans to fill that void.
"I looked at the depth chart and they need a four man," said Bowers. "I love the offense, they let the four man go and everybody shares the ball. It would be a great fit."
Bowers, 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, is a former Florida State signee. Bowers was released from his National Letter of Intent earlier this year. Bowers' trip to Auburn was the first since his release.
Bowers' last four months have been trying. He, along with teammates, were arrested in January after being linked to possession of marijuana during a traffic stop. The charges were dropped days later on February 6 and all the players were reinstated to the team.
"I realize that wasn't anything personal, I guess things were just meant to work out that way," said Bowers. "About that incident, I was proven innocent. I was falsely accused. People might think badly of me, but I don't smoke. I was around the wrong people.
"People think I'm a bad guy - I'm a good guy."
That incident was undoubtedly a wake-up call for Bowers, who is the father of a three-year-old daughter. Bowers' life changed when his child was born. He chalks up the unfortunate January incident as a "life lesson."
"I'm a grown man and I have to be an example for her," said Bowers. "She's the most important person in my life. That's why I work hard and want to succeed. Before her, I was different. I was young. I've grown up a lot. I learned from that situation and I'll be better for it moving forward."
Bowers spoke to AuburnSports.com on Sunday morning in more detail about his official visit to the Plains.
"I liked the campus and everything I hear about Bruce Pearl is really positive. I like it," Bowers said.
"It was nice. The coaches showed me a good time. I met the football coach, he made me feel at home. The team was real cool, they're like a family. I really liked that."
"Coach Jones is a good guy. Coach Person is a great guy, I beat him in a shooting contest, but he came back and smacked me. I Googled him and I know he was an all-star and what he did at Auburn. That's big-time. I think I could learn a lot from him."
Without the ability to speak with Coach Pearl, Bowers had a unique opportunity to visit with Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs. The visit was informative.
"He told me that he's ready to get basketball back to where it was," said Bowers. "I could have a major impact for the team."
Following his release, Bowers has been recruited by Memphis and South Carolina, in addition to Auburn. Bowers, a Milwaukee, Wisc. native, graduates from junior college on May 1. Bowers plans to sign on the first day of the regular signing period on April 16.