In a situation that’s become all too common in sports these days, Wichita State freshman guard D.J. Bowles collapsed during practice on Tuesday.
“He blacked out, he lost consciousness and we’re at the hospital right now trying to determine what his situation is,” Gregg Marshall told NBCSports.com on Thursday morning. He was admitted on Tuesday night and had tests all day Wednesday, but Marshall said they still don’t know what caused Bowles to collapse.
“I want to commend athletic trainer Todd Fagan, our athletic training staff, and emergency medical personnel, for quick and professional response exhibited in dealing with D.J.’s situation,” Director of Athletics Eric Sexton said in a statement.
Bowles was upgraded to fair condition on Wednesday night, which, obviously, is good news.
For Marshall, however, the incident brought back some terrifying memories.
In April of 2007, just days after being introduced as Wichita State’s new head coach, Marshall was in the stands at New Hampton Prep watching Guy Alang-Ntang, who was committed to the Shockers.
“My first week on the job, I was recruiting a kid that had been recruited by the previous staff,” Marshall said, his voice audibly shaking. “I was confirming his commitment to honor his National Letter of Intent, and he had told me he was going to do that, and 30 minutes later, during a workout, he perished.”
“I witnessed it. It was kind of a déjà vu with D.J., and it scared me.”
The idea that a young athlete, a kid who has dedicated their entire life to being in the best possible shape in order to earn a scholarship and, potentially, make a living playing a sport, can die because of a ticking time-bomb in their chest is terrifying. It’s devastating for those that have experienced it. When I was in college, a kid I had played AAU ball with passed away while jogging on the Morgan State campus due to a bad heart.
Last season, Creighton’s Josh Jones saw his career come to an end after passing out 35 minutes before a game against Nebraska; he has an atrial flutter. That came just days after Utah State’s Danny Berger was revived by a trainer using a defibrillator on his heart after he collapsed during a practice. Allan Chaney of High Point sat out for three years due to a heart condition before playing last season. Four years ago, Emmanuel Negedu needed a defibrillator to revive him after collapsing at a practice at Tennessee. He had a pacemaker installed and was cleared by New Mexico, but his career ended when the pacemaker gave off a bad reading during a game.
The good news, according to Marshall, is that the doctors have ruled out hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of muscles in the heart that causes many incidents of sudden cardiac death, but despite a litany of tests, the cause of Bowles’ blackout is still unknown. There’s no timetable for a return.
“I don’t know what other tests they’ve got to do,” he said, “but at some point, they’re going to figure out what’s going on with this kid.”
The incident with Bowles shook Marshall, but he’s thankful this story was different.
“This one had a much, much better ending thus far. A happier ending,” he said.