McDowell was in New Orleans during Final Four weekend as part of a promotion by Lowe's that recognizes players for achievements on and off the court.
McDowell was one of 10 finalists for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The award recognizes Division I seniors who excel in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition. The finalists are voted on by coaches, media and fans.
Purdue's Robbie Hummel won the award, and McDowell was named to the second team. Others recognized included Michigan State's Draymond Green, North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, Ashton Gibbs from Pittsburgh, Ronald Nored from Butler and William Buford from Ohio State.
"I don't think any of them knew who I was," McDowell joked. "I knew who they were, or at least who a few of them were, since they're more famous than me."
Still, he said he enjoyed meeting with them and talking basketball, particularly since several have pro aspirations. He listened as they spoke about their experiences with the first steps of playing professionally. He met with a few agents and spoke to people within the game about the process, which he said was valuable.
McDowell arrived in New Orleans on Thursday evening and departed Sunday night.
"New Orleans is a great city, especially to host an event like that," he said. "There was a buzz about the place that's tough to replicate."
McDowell and the others honorees attended an event at a local community center destroyed by Katrina that Lowe's is helping to rebuild. They participated in a dribble-through-the-city, in which thousands of kids are given basketball and t-shirts and dribble through town.
The honorees were formally recognized at the Superdome during the open practice sessions on Friday and attended Saturday's semifinals. One highlight, McDowell said, was meeting CBS announcer Jim Nantz, the featured speaker at a charity breakfast to help a family whose young child has muscular dystrophy.
For fun, McDowell took a lap through the human carnival that is Bourbon Street and wandered into places along Canal Street, where he stayed.
"You're never going to be bored in New Orleans," McDowell said. "Tons of great food, great entertainment, great music everywhere.
It was McDowell's third trip to the city. His father took him to the Final Four in 2003, the year Syracuse won the national championshihp. He returned a few years later as part of a church service trip to aid victims following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
McDowell, a 6-foot-6 forward from suburban Cincinnati, ended his career at William and Mary having made marks on and off the court. He is the Tribe's all-time leader in games and minutes played, and is one of only four players in school history to amass 1,500 points and 500 rebounds. He became the first two-time winner of the CAA's Dean Ehlers Leadership Award, and he is a three-time conference all-academic choice.
He also is president of the Tribe Fellowship student organization and works closely with groups at the nearby Williamsburg Community Chapel. He is the President's aide on the W&M President's Council and a member of the student-athlete advisory council.
"It was a nice way to close out my career," said McDowell, who added that the Tribe's annual hoops banquet takes place this weekend. "Those two things kind of put some closure on the last four years. I was really fortunate, really blessed to be given the chance to play basketball here. I'll remember these last couple years fondly. They'll always hold good memories for me."