MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features Ball State. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
Ball State women's basketball has truly been the Atlanta Braves of MAC women's basketball in the last 10 years. They've always been in there. They'd get a MAC West division here and there, but they'd normally fall short. They did get to the NCAA tournament in 2009, but that was it. But during the successful Tracy Roller years, one young lady helped propel them to back-to-back MAC West divisions and 20-win seasons.
Tamara Bowie is one of only six MAC women's basketball players to be named Player of the Year twice, and she's the Grover Cleveland of the bunch — she did it in nonconsecutive years, 2001 and 2003.
From the onset she was a pure scorer. Named to the Second Team All-MAC in 2000, she followed that up with three First Team selections as well as being one of only ten players in MAC history to score 2,000 career points. The 6'0" forward also has 933 career rebounds, which ranks in the top 15. In her school, 20.6 points per game is a season record. Nobody else but her has scored 40 points in a single game, and she did it twice. To top it off, 152 career blocks is also a school best — by 53.
All of this pushed her WNBA stock up to the point that she was drafted in the third round with the 36th overall pick (out of 42) by the Washington Mystics. She didn't make the team and began her European barnstorming: Iceland, Latvia, Israel, Greece, a contract with the Minnesota Lynx (but didn't make the team), then some semi-pro teams in Florida, Puerto Rico, and helped a Bulgarian team to a league championship.
Will she make it back to the WNBA? I doubt it, because the competition is just so stiff, and there aren't that many teams in the league. But it sounds like she's just one of those have-game, will-travel players who has the chance of a lifetime to go all over Europe and play the game before settling down somewhere.
It's easy to overlook Ball State women's basketball, since they didn't win multiple titles like Bowling Green or Toledo, and don't have the longevity of a coach like at Kent State. In fact, in their history they've played under .400 in the conference. So Bowie's name may get lost in the shuffle of the great women's basketball players, but in Muncie there was no one else like her.
Who are your nominees for Ball State's MACwood Squares? Comment below, tweet us at @HustleBelt or submit a FanPost making your case. The final nine will be revealed Friday.