Bowen played four seasons at Cal State Fullerton, appearing in 101 games, and averaged 11.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He averaged 16.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 36.6 minutes in 27 games as a senior in 1992-93, paving the way for him to be named to the All-Big West Conference First Team. Bowen ranks 12th on the Titans? all-time list in career points (1,155) and is seventh all-time in rebounds (559).
After bouncing around the CBA, and later as a journeyman for several teams in the NBA, Bowen finally found his niche with the San Antonio Spurs in 2001. His defense and clutch shooting meshed well with the likes of David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. He won championships with the Spurs in 2003 and 2005, and is now arguably one of the most important role players on the team.
Bowen is currently working toward his college degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is married to Yardley Barbon, and the couple has one son, Ojani (born September 7, 2005).
Bowen has gained a reputation for being one of the toughest perimeter defenders in the NBA. His usual game assignment is to neutralize the opponent's best backcourt player. Bowen's effective "in-your-face" defense has drawn much ire from many of his one-on-one opponents, particularly Ray Allen and Vince Carter. Bowen is considered one of the best defensive players not to have won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, ending as runner-up in both the 2005 and 2006 DPOY Awards behind Ben Wallace.
If left open, Bowen is also a remarkably good three-point shooter. He finished the 2005-06 regular season 9th in 3-point percent at 42.4% having played in all 82 games and averaging 33.6 minutes per game (with only Tony Parker (33.9) and Tim Duncan (34.8) averaging more minutes).
On the other hand, his miscellaneous contributions are rather average: his lifetime averages of 6.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game, and .566 foul shooting are considered mediocre, especially for his position. His foul shooting, in fact, is poor enough that he has at times been made the target of the so-called "Bruise-a-Bruce" defense.
Nonetheless, Bowen is widely considered as one of the best role players in the NBA. This is evidenced in part by his having started in every one of the 387 regular-season games he has played for the Spurs (as of end-of-season 2005-06).
- On his website, Bowen states following things:
- He is a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys.
- He runs the Bruce Bowen Foundation, an organization set-up to provide scholarships, tuitions and to help those less fortunate.
- He wants to become a teacher after his NBA career.