Laurence Bowers understands his situation.
Playing behind senior forwards Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll, Missouri's two leading scorers, there aren't many minutes for the freshman from Memphis, Tenn.
But when he's had the chance, Bowers has impressed. In Missouri's 80-52 win over Centenary on Tuesday night, Bowers played just four minutes but still made an impression on Missouri coach Mike Anderson.
"He had his hands on about four or five balls. It's like he's a magnet," Anderson said. "I think as he continues to evolve, just practicing and taking his time, he's going to help our basketball team."
Bowers had four points on Tuesday, and he scored a season-high 10 in 14 minutes against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Saturday.
Bowers knows his time to take a larger role is coming. Whether it's next week or next season, he is working hard to be ready when his opportunity comes.
Each day in practice, Bowers tries to learn from Lyons and Carroll.
"They have potential professional careers ahead of them and playing against them is only making me better," Bowers said.
In practices before the start of the season, Lyons scored against Bowers every time he touched the ball. Now Bowers holds his own. Junior guard Zaire Taylor said the improvement of the freshmen has helped push Missouri's starters in practice.
Lyons, in particular, is a role model for Bowers. As a freshman, Lyons averaged just nine minutes and 2.6 points per game. Now, Lyons is one of the stars of the team. It's a career path that Bowers would love to follow.
His senior teammates constantly encourage Bowers to stay positive despite not playing much.
"I know what it feels like to be in that position, so the only thing you can do is try to keep his confidence up and let him know that we still need him even if he might not play that many minutes," Lyons said. "He knows that sooner or later he'll have his time."
For now, the 6-foot-7, 205-pound Bowers is concentrating on gaining weight and getting stronger. The Tigers lift weights twice a week, and Bowers does strength training on his own, working on his arms and doing push-ups. So far he estimates he has gained about 10 pounds.
"I eat a ton," Bowers said. "I force myself to eat. Gaining weight is a big priority for me."
Bowers hopes to earn a few more minutes as the season progresses.
"The minutes are starting to come," Taylor said. "Coach is starting to call on him a lot earlier. Your hard work pays off, that's one thing I've always learned."
One thing Bowers has going for him is his jumping ability. In his limited minutes, he's had several highlight dunks, including one in the final few minutes of the Centenary game. Anderson calls Bowers a "highlight guy."
Taylor said that Bowers has a bright future at Missouri because of his natural talent.
"He's so instictive," Taylor said. "I want to say it first, that he's going to really shock some people."