By Steve Williams

I put in a phone call to the University of Tennessee men’s basketball office shortly after Rick Barnes was named the Vols’ new head coach last year and left him a message about Jordan Bowden, who had just finished an outstanding high school career on the hardwood at Carter.

My message was Bowden was one of the most exciting high school players I had seen locally over the past 40-plus years, and being a longtime UT fan, I just wanted to make sure Coach Barnes knew about him.

The athletic Bowden was listed as a shooting guard and point guard on the Carter roster, but he also played above the rim. I could just imagine how his play could put a charge in Big Orange fans in Thompson-Boling Arena. But not only was he an exciting player, in my contact with him as a newspaper reporter, Jordan also was a humble, articulate and well-mannered young man, who was making high marks in the classroom, too.

After Carter’s sectional win over Greeneville last season, which put the Hornets in the state tourney for the second straight year under Coach Joby Boydstone, Bowden told me, “My dream is to play Division 1 basketball, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ve got to figure out something.”

At that time, he had received offers from Lee University in Cleveland and King University in Bristol. East Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, Furman and UNC-Wilmington had shown interest.

Al Pinkins, a UT assistant off former head coach Donnie Tyndall’s staff, had come to see him play one game. That was the night Bowden scored 50 points in a 110-91 win over Alcoa.

After Tyndall was fired, and with Barnes and a new coaching staff coming aboard, I just wanted to make sure they knew about Bowden. I don’t know if Coach Barnes got my message or not, but I was glad to recently hear the news that Bowden has received an offer from Tennessee.

In fact, Bowden has really blossomed on the national recruiting scene in his prep year playing for 22 Feet Academy in Greenville, S.C. He is considered one of the best uncommitted prospects in 2016. He’s listed as a 6-5, 175-pound shooting guard. But that’s deceiving. Think helicopter.

Bowden received his first high-major offer from Utah on Jan. 11. The Utes currently are in second place behind Oregon in the Pac-12 Conference and ranked No. 13 in the nation.

The Vols made their offer to Bowden on Feb. 29. That same day he also received offers from Cincinnati and Providence. Before that, he had gotten offers from ETSU and Marquette.

Bowden has been preparing and putting in the work. It sounds like he has become a gym rat. I’m not surprised.

Jordan says what he’s looking for on the next level is a good relationship with the coach and just a place where he can be comfortable so he can reach his full potential.

A year ago, I asked Jordan if it would be a dream to play for Tennessee.

“It’s always a dream to play for your home state,” he answered. “It would be fun to play with them.”

It would be fun for me to see that happen.

But I’m even happier that Jordan now has that opportunity.

Last year, the headline on my column was, “High-flying Bowden will make an exciting landing somewhere.”

Today, I wish him the best wherever he lands.