Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
Chris Fowler, Leading Man
Chris Fowler has aspirations of becoming an actor one day. That ambition seems entirely appropriate considering that the sophomore point guard is already a triple threat, playing the roles of basketball star, academic and volunteer to critical acclaim.

Fowler is Central Michigan’s leading man on the court. As a freshman, he started all 31 games, averaging 8.1 points and 5.7 assists per game and had a sterling 2.2 assist/turnover ratio. Fowler also led the Chippewas in field goal percentage (.497) and steals (43). In 2013, he broke the freshman single-season record for assists, recording 176, which is also third all-time in the CMU record book. Fowler ranked 35th in the nation in assists and, with nearly 350 Division I men’s basketball programs, that puts him in an elite category. Even more impressive, Fowler’s freshman body of work included leading the NCAA in assist rate, according to ESPN.com, meaning his teammates scored off his assists more often than any other player in the nation.

Fowler’s standout performance in his first collegiate season earned him rave reviews, as he was recognized on the 2013 MAC All-Freshman Team and was the runner-up for MAC Freshman of the Year honors. While Fowler is undoubtedly comfortable taking center stage, it is clear from his aptitude for helping out his teammates with a well-timed and well-placed pass, he is more than willing to share the spotlight.

“Chris is an unselfish a player as I’ve ever been associated with,” said CMU head coach Keno Davis, who is in his second season directing the program. “I believe it is this characteristic that draws others to follow by example. It is his understanding and belief in the ‘team first’ mentality that has brought his well-deserved individual accolades.”

But pursuing his craft hasn’t always been easy. Injuries as a youth threatened to derail his playing career. Helping to overcome those obstacles has been Fowler’s well-defined and enlightened approach to the game.

“The main thing that allows me to be successful in basketball is the fact that I have learned to never take the game for granted. After suffering some injuries early in my career and having to sit out long periods of time because of those injuries, I learned that every time I step on the court is a blessing and I should never take that for granted. So, I go out on the court to work hard, play well and have as much fun as possible playing a game that I love.”

Not only is Fowler a “true student of the game,” as his coach deems the Southfield, Mich. native, he is a true student-athlete. The excellence he has achieved on the basketball court is equaled by his accomplishments in the classroom. Fowler possesses a 3.43 cumulative GPA, including two semesters in which he averaged above a 3.50. During the fall of 2012, he was honored on the Dean’s List.

“I think Chris’ excellence on the basketball court translates to the success he has had in the classroom because of his attention to detail, his work ethic and his ability to strive to be great. When you look at Chris Fowler, you are looking at the complete individual,” said Davis.

Also supporting that notion is the importance Fowler places on giving back through volunteerism. Despite the number of demands placed on a student-athlete, he finds the time to take part in various community service activities.  

Fowler worked with the Special OIympics basketball team last December, putting the athletes through drills while providing pointers on how to improve. He also volunteered with Meals on Wheels during the holidays, delivering food to at-risk seniors. In all that he does, whether it be speaking at CMU Sport Management Association function or working with elementary school children, he represents Central Michigan University in a positive light.

Fowler also gives back through his love for the game of basketball.

“What I most enjoy about community service is giving back to those who not only need it but deserve it,” said Fowler. “As I have grown up, I realized that playing basketball is much more than just a game. It is much more than just me. Yes, I play the game, but I also play it for people like me – hard-working individuals, positive individuals, individuals who aspire for success. I also play the game for those who are not physically, mentally or financially able to have a chance to play. I play for those who have disabilities who would trade anything just to play basketball. I play this game for those who have circumstances that won’t allow them to play. The community motivates me to keep going and keep working. Having the opportunity to give back to those who motivate me, means the world to me.”

Whether on the hardwood, in the classroom or in the community, Fowler exudes uncommon leadership qualities, a prized commodity on any team. With this trait and his natural talent, more great things appear to be ahead for Fowler before the curtain falls on his collegiate career.

“To be able to have a leader on your team, both on the court and in the locker room is important,” Davis said. “People will see the impact that Chris has on the game from their seats but what they won’t see is the calming affect he has on the team. He is able to push the team to reach its fullest potential. “

Fowler was named a team captain as a freshman, a rarity in the world of collegiate athletics, but is a true testament to his leadership abilities. He has been named the Chippewas’ sole captain to date for the 2013-14 season.

“Being a team captain means a lot to me,” said Fowler. “With all the great players that have come through this program, I feel honored and humbled to serve in such an important role.”

“I have to approach this role like any other important task in life. I must approach it with great positivity, attention to detail and hard work. I must not only lead vocally but by example as well. Being a captain on the basketball court doesn’t limit me to leading during practice and in games. I must lead in all aspects of life, such as in the classroom, the community, as well as on the court.”
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