Jordan McCowen was a high school basketball star at Kingwood High in Houston and a collegiate star at Dallas Baptist
University. He would have been a hotshot professional player, too, if his knees hadn’t made other plans.
McCowen quit basketball but not life, earning an MBA and starting a career in finance. He found a lovely wife, had a
kid, and now has another on the way.
With a resume like that, it seemed mighty unlikely that much would startle him when it comes to the sport of
basketball – or life.
Yet there he was earlier this year, standing in the Sam Houston High School gym, his jaw sweeping up dust from the
McCowen, the new head coach of the new Arlington Force basketball team, was addressing about 20 wide-eyed
hoopsters, some sitting, some standing, all sweaty and fatigued but pumped that this Arlington-based Amateur Athletic
Union team might very well be their first step into college ball and pro ball and fat NBA contracts.
Then McCowen managed to suck the air out the room by asking a simple question.
Has anyone taken the SAT?
He asked because the question before that was how many want to play college basketball.
Hands shot up like fireworks.
These were juniors and seniors. Yet none had taken the SAT or ACT. Hadn’t planned on it, either.
“We have to take that to get into college?” a player wanted to know. The young man figured all he needed was a
hoop scholarship and keys to his dorm room.
Since that tryout in February, McCowen has assembled a pair of 17-and-under teams and a 16-and-under boys squad,
more than 30 eager young men in all, mostly from Arlington schools.
“We’re still getting some in, as the word gets out,” says McCowen, who is also looking for volunteer coaches and
support staff. “We’re just seeing where this takes us.”
And takes them. The addition of yet another basketball team is hardly news, but Arlington Force is a different kind of
It’s not just about basketball.
“If I had to break it down,” McCowen tells me, “It’s 30 percent about basketball and 70 percent everything else.”
What else is there? Education. Morals. Ethics. Vision.
He talks rebounding and blocking out but also gives assignments, like pick five colleges and find a degree plan you
If you think the whole SAT story is a stretch, consider that when the team played a tournament in Duncanville, a 20-
minute drive for most, McCowan says, “you’d have thought we’d just rolled up in Houston or something.”
Forget about leaving Arlington. These kids haven’t stepped outside their own neighborhoods. McCowen has seen
their curiosity and motivation rise. This basketball experience is triggering a process of accelerated personal
development, which he knows will manifest later.
McCowen’s high school coach taught him how to play the right way, live the right way. Big dreams, small steps.
No one knows that better than Theron Bowman, the former Arlington Police Chief and Deputy City Manager, who
helped launch this Force.
“With my background in law enforcement and seeing so much of what is happening in our community, I really fear for
these kids who think they are going in one direction and are going to hit a roadblock with no preparation to go forward,”
Bowman says. “Arguably you don’t know what they will be in a year or two without proper guidance and direction. We
don’t want them just hanging out.”
That’s the beauty of the Arlington Force. They’re hanging out with the right people doing the right thing in the right
“My ultimate goal is to get them in college,” McCowen says. Repeatedly.
He’s candid about their chances of doing it as a player. No guarantees.
What’s certain: They are now fully aware of the SAT.
Big dreams. Small steps.