An introduction from his mentor, Marek Klassen, opened the doors to the pro game for the former BC high school MVP.

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As a fifth grade hooper, Ty Rowell remembers watching Marek Klassen tear it up for Yale a decade ago.

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Klassen led the Yale Lions to the 2010 3A boys province title, earning MVP along the way before heading south to play university in the US

The boy from Abbotsford blazed the trail for the boy from Langley. Like Klassen, Rowell led his school to the BC crown, his Walnut Grove Gators going 4-1 that season, before heading south himself.

And now, Rowell is back hooping in BC, and it’s all thanks to the guy who came before him. The Fraser Valley Bandits signed Rowell to his first pro contract last week, with an assist going to the Bandits’ longtime point guard, Klassen.

“I’ve always kind of had my eye on the CEBL first of all just because it’s a Canadian league, but then Fraser Valley Bandits … I always kind of kept up with them,” said Rowell. “I thought it was super cool and I was like, ‘Oh man, if I get a chance to play in the CEBL, I would want to play for the Fraser Valley team.

“I got connected with Marek, then got put in contact with Dylan (Kular) and Mike (Taylor) and then from there, we kind of just talked it through and worked out a great deal.

“I’ve kept up with (Marek) and he’s been a great mentor for me. I definitely look up to him and his game from him.”

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Both won BC titles, were named MVP, went to Christian universities in California, (Rowell, California Baptist; Klassen, Point Loma), and are sharpshooting six-footish point guards. But the odds are working against both playing together with the Bandits this season. Klassen’s Polish team, Czarni Słupsk, looks to make another team run this year, and Klassen’s return would be dependent on that not happening. He’s averaging 14.1 points and 6.7 assists for Czarni.

But in Rowell, they’re also getting a solid player. He averaged 11 ppg and 2.8 assists in four years of Div. I basketball with the Lancer, and hit nine threes as part of a 32-point explosion against NBA lottery pick Evan Mobley and USC in 2020.

A pro career wasn’t part of Rowell’s thinking when he headed south and focused on his sports administration degree and MBA, but started to consider it in his senior year. With introductions to the pro side of the game, it’s a perfect situation because the arena is 10 minutes from his parents’ house and the league is on the rise.

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“I hadn’t considered it strongly; I was kind of just invested at the moment,” he said. “I was super happy to be at a place that was competitive and had a solid staff and players. I did have another year, a sixth year to play another season of college basketball, but I opted out on that and decided I wanted to take a new step, challenge myself a bit.”

Rowell will join former rival and Semiahmoo grad Adam Paige on the roster, a guy he clashed with in the high school ranks and played with on the academy side.

He’s hired an agent to start searching out gigs overseas for the fall and winter, allowing him to concentrate on competing for playing time with the veteran pros on the Bandits and build his own resume.

Ty Rowell was a member of the Vancouver Province's 2017 Head of the Class after leading Walnut Grove to the BC title.
Ty Rowell was a member of the Vancouver Province’s 2017 Head of the Class after leading Walnut Grove to the BC title. Photo by RICHARD LAM /PNG

“I’ve been five years in the same place in college. I’ve gotten used to my coaches’ practice schedule. I’ve been doing the same thing for five years, same hourly practices, I’m used to that sort of rhythm,” said Rowell. “So honestly, I’m kind of ready for whatever comes at me. It’s going to be different practice style, different guys, but I’m going to go in open and ready for anything.

“I’m zoned in on the guards I’m going to be competing with, you know, Malcolm (Duvivier), Alex (Campbell)… tough guards. They have solid resumes in the CEBL and elsewhere, so I’m excited to get in the gym with them. They’re going to make me better, and I’m hoping we can make them better as well.”

Fraser Valley opens CEBL season No. 4 on the road on Wednesday, May 25 at 4:30 pm PT against the Ottawa BlackJacks. They play two more road games before making their home debut at the Langley Events Center vs. the Saskatchewan Rattlers on Saturday, June 4 at 2 pm PT.

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