Brian Bowen, the former Louisville recruit at the center of the federal probe into corruption within college basketball recruiting circles, will declare for the NBA Draft in case the NCAA rules him ineligible for 2018-19.
The current South Carolina freshman has not signed with an agent, so his eligibility should not be affected by his decision to declare for the draft.
‘I just felt that it was the right decision,’ Bowen told ESPN. ‘My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases.’
Brian Bowen was a blue-chip recruit as a senior in high school before surprisingly signing with Louisville (left), which suspended him after the FBI probe was revealed. Louisville did not seek reinstatement for Bowen, who then transferred to South Carolina (right)
NBA scouts have not seen Bowen play since the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Game
Bowen was a blue-chip recruit as a senior in high school before surprisingly signing with Louisville – a school that had not recruited him.
In September the FBI and Department of Justice announced a joint investigation into corruption within college basketball. One filing contained allegations that Bowen’s family accepted a $100,000 payment to secure his commitment to Louisville. That payment was allegedly handled by then-Adidas director of global sports marketing James Gatto and approved by Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, who was fired by the school in the wake of the scandal.
Bowen’s decision to sign with Louisville even surprised Pitino, who was admittedly fortunate to get such a high-profile recruit without investing much effort.
‘We got lucky on this one,’ Pitino told Terry Meiners of News Radio 840 soon after. ‘I had an AAU director call me and ask me if I’d be interested in a player [Bowen]. I saw him against another great player from Indiana. I said ‘Yeah, I’d be really interested.’ They had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotel, pay for their meals. We spent zero dollars recruiting a five-star athlete who I loved when I saw him play. In my 40 years of coaching this is the luckiest I’ve been.’
Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino was fired by Louisville after the FBI-DOJ probe allegedly found evidence that Bowen’s family accepted a $100,000 payment in exchange for his commitment
After the FBI probe was revealed, the Michigan native was suspended by the school. Louisville did not seek reinstatement for Bowen, who soon transferred to South Carolina.
If Bowen is reinstated by the NCAA, he could finally play college basketball next season. If not, he’ll hope to be selected in June’s NBA Draft.
‘This is a mature move from Brian,’ Bowen’s lawyer, Jason Setchen, told ESPN. ‘We’re hopeful and have faith that the NCAA will make the right decision and allow Brian to play next season for South Carolina, but he’ll also have the opportunity to be drafted if that doesn’t happen.’
The 6-foot-7 Bowen was the 14th-ranked player in his class, according to ESPN, and a former McDonald’s All American after a finishing his high school career at La Lumiere School in Indiana.
Unfortunately, because he has not played since the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Game, NBA scouts do not have much material with which to evaluate him.
‘He’s a little bit of a mystery because most of us haven’t seen him since the McDonald’s Game practices last year,’ one NBA executive told ESPN. ‘I think he’ll be invited to the combine, and if he does, he’ll have a chance to really help himself.’
Former Adidas representative James Gatto allegedly facilitated the payment