BOTB Laurence Bowers
COLUMBIA -- The Tigers call him L-Bo, but it's his knee that had Missouri fans talking before the start of the season.
Laurence Bowers made 27 starts last season and coaches expected him to play a major role. Last season, as a junior Bowers led the Tigers in rebounding and was 2nd in scoring.
But all his hopes for this season ended before it started.
You're used to seeing Laurence Bowers dunk, but he hasn't dunked a basketball since October.
"I landed and hyperextended my knee. I knew something bad had happened.I just knew it was a very excrusciating pain and it was like nothing I've ever felt before," Bowers said.
A MRI revealed an athletes three most feared letters, A-C-L. Bower's knee ligament was torn.
"First thing that goes through my mind is sick to my stomach. It was tough news to hear," teammate Jarrett Sutton said.
"I just broke down. The first thing I was thinking is that I'm not going to finish the year Marcus (Denmon), Kimmie (English) and Steve (Moore), the guys I came in with. That was the toughest part," Bowers said.
The most surprising part was what Bowers did the day he found out. He kept his scheduled appearance to read to kids at the Columbia Public Library.
"I felt like I shouldn't punish the kids for that. They were expecting me to be there and it's something I enjoy doing is giving back so I wouldn't let an injury like that stop me," Bowers said.
You won't find him in the box score this season, but he's still making a statement on the sideline.
"I just didn't want to be the typical athlete. I feel like me representing Missouri with a business attire on TV looks really good for the University. It shows the class," Bowers said.
"He's always looking good. That's kind of keeping him occupied this season. Does this look good? What jacket should I wear with these shoes?" Sutton said.
The finer threads haven't effected his enthusiasm.
"There are times after the games when my knee will swell up a little bit but that's just because I over do it," Bowers said.
Bowers says he's more vocal now. He's increased his strength and his range.
"He's working on his jump shot a lot. I know that's something that he's wanted to work on so he can step outside and knock down 16-17 feet jump shots," Sutton said.
While some would waste time thinking about what they've lost, Bowers looks at what he's gained.
"I think it's a blessing that this injury happened at the time it did. It could have happened right now and I'd have missed the rest of my Senior season, but because it happened at an earlier time I get a whole year back," Bowers said.
Bowers says one of the toughest games to miss this season was when the Tigers played against Villanova in Madison Square Garden because he's always wanted to play there.
The next major hurdle will be Senior Day when Bowers will have to watch his class honored before the game.
Bowers said his rehab is going better than expected.