Junior two-sport athlete Patrick Lowndes has been one of Emerson’s most noticeable players the past few years as a top contributor to two of the school’s highest-profile teams — the Emerson men’s soccer team in the fall and its basketball team during the winter months.
But Lowndes’ signature afro will be absent from the court when the Lions kick off their season against Framingham State at the Emerson College Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 15, even though he’ll still be there for all of Emerson’s home games at the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym.
He’s not the only important player exiting the locker room either, as senior guard James Rhodes — who started 16 out of 27 games in the 2012-13 season — has also chosen not to return as the team enters its first season in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.
Lowndes, a starting forward in 2012, will being doing color commentary and play-by-play for the Emerson Channel’s coverage of men’s basketball home games this season.
Rhodes, who declined to be interviewed by the Beacon, averaged 7.8 points per game as a junior, meaning the Lions will lose one of their most prolific outside scorers. Rhodes looked likely to play a big role this year after starting in 11 out of Emerson’s final 12 games last year.
Lowndes was the team’s second option in 2012-13, averaging 8.7 points per contest. He left a strong final impression, reaching double digits in six of the Lions’ last nine games of the season, including a 21-point, eight-rebound outburst in a win over Emmanuel College.
Lowndes informed third-year men’s basketball head coach Jim O’Brien and his teammates earlier in the semester that he will not return to the team this season.
“I had the most fun ever in a basketball season last year and some of the guys on that team are my best friends, and I love [Coach O’Brien],” said Lowndes. “That made it a really tough choice.”
According to Lowndes, the only factors in his decision to leave the team were his career goals and need to gain experience as a broadcast journalist covering basketball, football, and soccer.
Lowndes, who hails from Granby, Conn., has also played soccer for the last three years. This past season, he started at stopper in 13 out of 17 games as the men’s soccer team finished 7-10.
“Part of the appeal of coming to Emerson was being able to be a two-sport athlete and try to become a broadcast journalist, but it came to a point where if I want to commentate basketball as a career, I need to start getting some reel,” Lowndes said. “To go through four years of college and have no reel was not going to set me up in a good position.”
Lowndes, who lived in the Dominican Republic for two years, is also fluent in Spanish.
“I want to be a bilingual broadcaster,” Lowndes said. “I would like to live in Spain or a Spanish-speaking country for a year out of college to get my fluency back. On the broadcast level, I need improvement. In 10 years, I hope to be with some affiliation of ESPN or Fox Sports 1 doing play-by-play or color [commentary] in Spanish or English.”
Lowndes — along with current senior forward and team captain John Goldberg — was one of two players to start all 27 games for the Lions last year in a season that concluded with a 71-52 loss at Westfield State in the Eastern College Athletic Conference quarterfinals.
Along with his scoring, the 6-foot-2 Lowndes also collected the second-most rebounds per game, trailing only Goldberg as he pulled down 6.8 rebounds over 28.5 minutes per game.
Even though Lowndes was a vital part of the Lions’ squad last season, he said his former team will have success without his presence on the court.
“They brought in a lot of height; they are a lot taller and a lot bigger,” said Lowndes. “Our problem last year was size. Personnel-wise, I don’t think they are going to miss me.”
In the wake of Lowndes’ departure, the Lions will look to 6-foot-6 forward Austin Pinckney, a junior transfer from Northwood University (Division 2), located in West Palm Beach, Fla., who Lowndes said will provide quality height to the Emerson lineup this season.
“[Pinckney] will have a good season,” said Lowndes. “Anytime you have someone with that height, that is athletic and can shoot the ball, you are probably going to have a good year.”
Lowndes said his team and Coach O’Brien were supportive of his decision.
O’Brien has not yet been made available to the Beacon this semester.
“After 17 years of doing the same thing every winter, it will definitely be a big change,” said Lowndes, who admitted the switch might be a little bit odd at first. “I’m excited to get some real [broadcasting] experience and, again, it was a decision I felt I had to make.”