By Molly Hulsey
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Recent Missouri basketball players have had their share of nickname - Junkyard Dog, Goose, Mr. Coffee - and it may be time to add another to that list.
If any phrase describes sophomore forward Laurence Bowers, this is surely it. Known for his seemingly effortless dunks and Sportscenter highlight plays, Bowers has become a force on the court over the course of a single season. What many don't know is that his talents stretch far beyond Mizzou Arena and into the fields of art and music as well.
Along with a few suitemates, Bowers records music in his spare time. A gifted vocalist who also excels on the piano, he enjoys writing songs with roommates for fun, as well as drawing; he designed each of his own tattoos.
"I grew up in a church, and I was always involved in church choir," Bowers said. "Music is a big part of my family. I wouldn't say I want to take it any further, but it's something I love to do on the side, just like art."
With the attention his basketball skills are drawing, those artistic interests may have to remain only hobbies.
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Bowers was all-state as a freshman and sophomore at Elliston Baptist High School. He then transferred to St. Georges' Independent School in Memphis, Tenn., for his final two seasons and earned all-state honors as a junior and a senior.
Bowers was a finalist for Tennessee's Mr. Basketball Award and the McDonald's All-America game. Bowers also excelled in baseball, earning all-state pitching honors as a freshman and sophomore.
Although he received offers from several high-profile basketball programs, Bowers quickly chose Missouri, due in large part to his close relationship with coach Mike Anderson. Anderson coached Bowers' uncle - Arlyn Bowers - during his time at Arkansas, and the two remained close.
"I've known coach A ever since I was an infant," Bowers said. "He's always been around the family, and I knew that if I came up here he would treat me like family. He helped my uncle become a better man, and it's an honor to play for a great guy like him."
Mizzou's frenetic pace - known as the "Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball" - provided another big draw for Bowers.
"I can really use my athleticism in that brand of basketball," Bowers said. "I can play half-court, but I think the strength of my game is really in transition. In an up-tempo style, that's the way we play. The other team never knows what we're in, and I think that really adds strength to my game."
Bowers also credits two of Mizzou's best former players for strengthening his style. Playing as a freshman behind senior All-Big 12 forwards Demarre Carroll and Leo Lyons, Bowers used the opportunity to learn.
"I wanted to have a bigger role, but I was playing behind two professional guys," Bowers said. "They pushed me every day in practice and I think it's helped me so far. Just knowing that I can play with them means that I can play with anybody. Now that they're gone, they've pretty much set the tone for me."
Bowers has started four games and is thriving in an expanded role this season. He averaged 10 points and six rebounds through Mizzou's first 11 games, and he leads the team with 17 blocks. He's a crowd favorite because of his athletic dunks.
"Whenever I get a chance to make a highlight play like that, I'm going to try my best to perform," Bowers said. "It's fun for your family to see you on (Sportscenter) if they can't make it to your games. I've been known here for being the 'Highlight Guy' and I don't want to let the crowd down."
He was a part of last year's record-breaking season. Mizzou achieved its best record ever (31-7), beat archrival Kansas, won the Big 12 Tournament Championship and reached the Elite Eight. Bowers and is teammates aren't satisfied.
"We want to make it further than we did last year," Bowers said. "We want to win a national championship."