South Carolina shocked its fanbase and most of the college basketball world Wednesday by announcing the addition of five-star recruit Brian Bowen.
But while it’s already clear that Bowen ranks among the very best recruits to ever join the Gamecocks, and that it will likely be at least two semesters until he actually plays for USC, here’s what South Carolina fans should know about where Bowen excels on the hardwood, where he still needs to develop and how he’ll fit in with Frank Martin’s system.
As Bowen was coming out of high school, just about every scout and analyst raved about his combination of length and agility. At 6-foot-7 with a 6-9 wingspan, Bowen has length that compares favorably to South Carolina’s current post players, but enough speed to match the Gamecock guards.
Never miss a local story.
He’s projected as a wing player, but according to Draft Express, he could move up to shooting guard with his playmaking ability, or shift down to a stretch-four in smaller lineups.
“He’s a very good shooter. He can make tough shots and has improved his ability score off the dribble. He’s a fantastic catch-and-shoot guy, too. He’s gotten gradually and progressively gotten better in other areas of the game,” 247Sports analyst Jerry Meyer told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Bleacher Report and NBADraft.Net also call Bowen an elite shooter with smooth mechanics and the range to score from 3 and finish at the rim, all without needing to have the ball in his hands at all times.
“Bowen has a versatile scoring attack that allows him to score it by driving the ball from wing, make jump shots and even score it some from the block,” according to 247Sports.
As a wing player, Bowen has also flashed the ability to rebound well, according to NBADraft.Net and Draft Express, cutting to the rim to crash the glass on the offensive side and moving without the ball in his hands.
While scouts love Bowen’s length as a wing player, they think he has some work to do in adding bulk to his lanky frame so that he can withstand physical play at the collegiate level instead of coasting by with superior athleticism.
“He has a ways to go as far as getting stronger and being physical,” according to 247Sports.
“Average frame. A bit hunched up top. Body is a bit awkward. Struggles to play through physicality on both ends of the floor,” Draft Express wrote.
Related to that point, most analysts feel that Bowen lacks elite explosiveness on the level of most NBA wings and guards. Bleacher Report and Draft Express both describe that element of his game as “average,” though not poor enough to really hold him back as long as he’s in college.
Finally, while Bowen can score from just about anywhere on the floor, he struggled a little bit in high school with streaky shooting, especially from distance.
“At this point, his long range shot isn't consistent, as he was 11-for-53 from 3 during his final summer on the Nike EYBL circuit,” according to his 247Sports’ evaluation.
Part of that may be that he struggles somewhat with shot selection, according to Draft Express and NBADraft.Net. Because he has the ability to make difficult attempts, scouts feel that he sometimes settles for those shots instead of working to get better ones.
How he fits with South Carolina
Frank Martin is a famously defensively-minded coach, and Bowen has all the tools to be a good defender, according to scouting reports, with good instincts tracking the ball and the length to get in people’s faces.
Again, however, size remains the issue for Bowen, who weighs about 190 pounds. However, he’ll have plenty of time to spend in South Carolina’s gym bulking up before he can actually play, and as we’ve already seen with Kory Holden, the Gamecocks have had no issue with helping players adding weight.
Another dynamic to watch once Bowen gets on the floor of Colonial Life Arena will be how Martin structures his offense to get Bowen the ball. Most of Bowen’s evaluations note that he does not have tremendous ball-handling ability, but if he has the most natural talent, as his ratings suggest, then the Gamecocks would presumably want him to have the basketball in his hands as much as possible.