Undersized and undervalued, Sheldon Lowman motivated himself onto the men’s basketball team.
Except the 6-foot-1 sophomore guard isn’t settling. He’s looking to make an impact.
“It’s a very humbling experience being able to play Division 1 college basketball,” Lowman said. “I’m really honored to be a part of this Central Michigan program.”
It wasn’t an easy road for Lowman. He took the path less traveled by attending Mid Michigan Community College before transferring to the bigger school in Mount Pleasant and trying out as a walk-on when Keno Davis and his staff took over in April 2012.
The Detroit native graduated from Kettering High School in 2010 after being a four-year letterwinner in basketball and earning All-City honors his junior and senior seasons.
The offers from the Division 1 schools weren’t coming in, though. Not even Division 2 or 3 schools were interested. He was forced to take a different route.
MMCC rebooted its basketball program that was non-existent for 40 years, and Lowman became its leader. He led the Lakers to an 11-8 overall record, 5-3 against opponents in the Michigan Community College Athletics Association.
“It was a great time at Mid Michigan,” Lowman said. “I learned a lot, made some great friends and had coaching staff that really helped my IQ.”
His work ethic and basketball IQ have gotten him to where he is today. His former teammates can vouch for him.
“He was one of the first guys to the gym and always one of the last to leave,” former MMCC teammate Trevor Wyman said. “He always put in extra work.
“He’s a vocal leader. Even at Mid, he was telling guys where they need to go. If a player needed to learn a play better, he was the first one there taking charge on the floor.”
While sharing the floor with him in high school gyms in the area, Wyman saw he had the potential to play in bigger arenas.
“When you look at Sheldon, his calves are bigger than his thighs,” he said. “I always kind of thought he was Division 2 potential. And if he worked hard enough, Division 1.”
Lowman transferred to CMU after learning of Davis’ hire. The new head coach held an open tryout, and it had a stellar turnout. Many students showed what they had, but Lowman stood out to him.
“When we held the open tryout, it was important to let our students know they had the opportunity to not just make the team, but try to earn a spot,” Davis said. “Sheldon Lowman has found himself in that situation.
“He’s battling for playing time, and it shows there isn’t much difference between the highest rated recruit and some of those kids that got overlooked.”
Lowman is one of those kids who got overlooked out of high school, and teammate Chris Fowler believes it fuels him.
“Sheldon and I worked out a lot together this summer. What I can say about Sheldon is that he’s very hungry,” Fowler said. “He plays with a chip on his shoulder every time he comes out to practice because he feels overlooked.”
Lowman would agree.
“As a walk-on, I do feel I have a chip on my shoulder,” Lowman said. “I feel like I was overlooked, but that’s a part of life. You just have to keep on pushing.”
He has had that mindset to keep pushing despite what life throws his way for much of his life. Lowman lost his mother to thyroid cancer in 2011 after a year-and-a-half-long battle.
“He’s been through a lot,” Wyman said. “He’s a friend of mine, and he’s lost some close people in his life. It makes him work harder to achieve his goals.”
Lowman was a senior in high school when she was diagnosed. While attending MMCC and playing basketball, he didn’t have the means to travel back to Detroit to visit her.
Mid-Michigan assistant coach Joel Machota helped by driving him to Detroit whenever he would go home to visit his family.
“I lived in the same area he did in the metro Detroit area, and there were a couple of times I was going home or he wanted to go home so I gave him a ride,” said Machota, now a graduate assistant at the University of Detroit Mercy. “There was one time he sat down with me and the head coach and broke down a little bit talking about it. We just told him, ‘we are here for you.’”
Lowman’s mother was a single parent after Sheldon’s dad went out of the picture and in-and-out of jail. She did what she could for her son, and it makes him want more than he had.
“My mother was a single parent, so we really couldn’t afford anything in my childhood,” Lowman said. “I’m just really motivated to have a better life than what I had.”
Despite what has happened to him, Lowman has maintained a steady mindset.
“I had great grades, a mother who provided for me the best she could and always getting involved with the community the best I could,” Lowman said. “My positive mindset comes from the community I’m from. Franklin Rice Settlements is really where I spent most my time at, and the people there were very positive.”
Lowman’s long road to getting onto a Division 1 roster has essentially made him CMU’s version of Rudy.
Don’t tell Davis, though. He says a Rudy title doesn’t do him justice.
“I wouldn’t do that to him,” Davis said. “When I was at Drake, we had a player from Saginaw Arthur Hill (Adam Emmenecker) that ended up being the Most Valuable Player in the conference before he was done.
“So, sky is the limit for guys to come in and be successful. There is no reason he can’t compete with everybody, not just get on the court but there at crunch time.”