June 18, 2007
By Bruce Adams
San Francisco Chronicle
This is about as good as it gets for Dior Lowhorn: playing basketball in the city.
Appearances to the contrary, he's as San Francisco as morning fog.
Forget that Lowhorn starred across the Bay at Berkeley High. Forget that he played his first year for coach Bob Knight at Texas Tech.
He was born and raised in San Francisco, celebrating the city's diversity by learning to speak Chinese at Alice Fong Yu Middle School and Italian at Archbishop Riordan High. When his family moved to the East Bay before his junior year, Lowhorn left his heart behind.
"I've probably played at every gym in the city from Potrero Hill to Upper Noe to Hamilton," said Lowhorn who says he's always preferred the basketball scene in San Francisco to the more celebrated hoop culture in Oakland. He continues to play in pickup games with his role models, San Francisco playground legends Edward "Topper" Allen, Dwayne Fontana and Jaha Wilson.
And for the second year in a row he'll be playing at the SF Bay Area Pro-Am in Kezar Pavilion.
Then he becomes eligible at USF next fall, after sitting out a year following his transfer from Tech.
He says he's ready for the Hilltop, ticking off highlights from the Bill Russell glory years in the 1950s, through the perennial NCAA Tournament teams of the '70s and up to USF's last appearance in the tournament in 1998.
"I can't wait, being the only Division I team in the city and with all the history around the program," he said.
Coach Jessie Evans says Lowhorn is ready to take a key role for the Dons.
"I would not be surprised to see him make a significant contribution right away in the areas we need," Evans said.
Last season the Dons finished 13-18, playing a free-style, full-court game that sometimes appeared frenetic and lacking structure.
"We're going to run an offense that stops us from dribbling the ball as much," Lowhorn said, adding the Dons hope to run a system similar to the Phoenix Suns.
"They run a structured freelance system," he said. "Steve Nash keeps them under control."
For starters, Lowhorn hopes to fit right into the running game while bringing some order to the half-court.
"I can get out and run," he said. "But since I'm so versatile I can go inside and outside and create a lot of mismatches in the half-court."
The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Lowhorn and 6-9, 245-pound Hyman Taylor, a transfer from Florida A&M, were fixtures in Memorial Gym last season, redshirts who worked out together before USF home games and often pleasing the early crowd with impromptu slam-dunk contests.
"Those two guys alone will make us significantly better, especially in rebounding the basketball, defending the basketball and giving us a presence inside," Evans said.
Lowhorn will continue his preparation at the Pro-Am, playing again for defending champion Bay City.
"It's important, especially when you haven't played for a year," he said. Still, it's not quite up to what he expects at USF.
"It's so much harder in college," he said. "Teams scout you, teams scout tendencies. The referees are better trained. There are more physical, more athletic, stronger, smarter players."
But the summer league, which features college regulars, high school stars, professional players from overseas and the occasional NBA visitor, offers crowds, competition and offense-oriented games.
"It's definitely a positive," Evans said.
"It gives an opportunity to gain much needed experience against players of his own caliber," said Jon Greenberg, who founded the Pro-Am 28 years ago and still runs it. "He can take that experience with him to a higher level." SF Bay Area Pro-Am Basketball League