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THE GRIND: Robert Cowherd is adding another dimension to Denmark boys basketball
Denmark sophomore Robert Cowherd, who has a college offer from Georgia, has already given the Danes a huge boost in their region title defense. - photo by David Almeda

The Grind: Denmark's Robert Cowherd

By: Jon Benson III

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Denmark High School may have just entered its second season of existence, but to Robert Cowherd, becoming a Dane was a homecoming.

He lives about a mile away from Forsyth County’s newest high school, and having played in the county in his younger years, he already knew some of his new teammates when he transferred from Holy Spirit Prep before the 2019 season began.

“I’ve lived here my whole life,” he said. “I know everybody around here. It was just coming back home.”

Colleges know all about Cowherd, too.

Just a sophomore, he already holds an offer from Georgia, with more surely coming his way in the future. Denmark is already seeing the benefit of having a shooting guard of his caliber, giving the defending Region 7-4A champions a boost they needed.

“He adds a different dimension to our team,” Denmark boys basketball coach Tyler Whitlock said. “The ability to score the ball at all three levels, especially being a knock down shooter from the outside, is something that we definitely missed last year.”

Cowherd was poised to be an athlete for as long as he can remember. When he was young, his dad, a former high school basketball player himself, put basketball hoops all around the house. Football became his focus in middle school, but it was then that he saw his own potential as a basketball player.

“Really, seventh grade is when I really started (saying), ‘OK, I can really do something,’” Cowherd said. “I really played football my whole life — that was my main sport at first, but then in seventh grade I was like, ‘All right, I kind of like basketball.’”

Whitlock knew what kind of player Cowherd was before he came in this year, but his only question mark was a significant one: would he be coachable? The Danes haven’t had to worry about that, though, with Cowherd more than open to correcting past habits.

For him, one of the main things he’s worked on is rebounding, a part of the game he didn’t really have to focus on in the past.

“It was never just choosing not to do those things,” Whitlock said. “Rebounding is a thing that leads to winning, and winning when it really matters. I think it was a habit for him, playing with guys that are 6-9 and 6-10 during AAU, guys that you know are going to solidify rebounds for you, there’s no pressure there.”

And while Cowherd is a team player who wants to win even if it means being unselfish, there are times where that kind of mindset can actually be a detriment. Cowherd’s presence on the floor can open chances for Sutton Smith and others to make plays for the Danes.

“We’ve had to have conversations about being too unselfish at times and having to be able to be more of a threat,” Whitlock said. “When he looks to be a little bit more aggressive, it actually opens things better for his teammates.

“It helps to balance a little bit more. People can’t key in on one person and it just gives a lot more versatility.”

Denmark’s game against Buford on Dec. 10 was an example of what can happen when Cowherd shows that kind of mindset. His ability to open shots for others resulted in five Danes finishing in double digits.

With a few years left before he heads to college, Cowherd will look to continue being a threat for Denmark going forward. As the college prospect that he is, he knows there’s a target on his back, but he’s looking forward to getting even better.

“Everybody's going to come at you hard, constantly, every day, every game,” Cowherd said. “(I want) to be the best player I can be and just go as far as I can.”