Here’s something concrete about Brian Bowen’s future: He’s scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. Thursday session with reporters at the NBA Draft Combine.
The rest remains a mystery for the (current) South Carolina Gamecock.
Bowen is perhaps the most unique of the 60-plus basketball players participating this week at the Quest Multisport Complex. As ESPN’s Jonathan Givony recently wrote, the combine is “likely the first time (NBA) teams will have seen Bowen since the 2017 Jordan Brand Classic. This will be a good gauge of how the 19-year-old has developed physically and skill-wise.”
Bowen’s story is both well-known and puzzling. He’s the former Louisville recruit wrapped in the FBI’s probe into college basketball. He transferred to USC in January, but was never reinstated by the NCAA to play in games. That’s still the case as the stay-in-school or go pro deadline of May 30 looms. The NBA draft is June 21.
The 6-foot-7 Bowen has already worked out for at least the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz. There’s a genuine interest in the 2017 McDonald’s All-American and top 20 recruit. A combine performance can increase that curiosity.
“Bowen doesn't have much momentum behind him at the moment,” Givony wrote, “so any production in Chicago is a positive, but building his résumé at South Carolina next season is likely his best bet.”
But will he even have that option? Carolina coach Frank Martin, appearing on 107.5 The Game on Tuesday afternoon, said he’s optimistic information is coming soon.
“And the reason I’m very optimistic is everyone else that was under the whole dark cloud (FBI investigation) has been cleared to play moving forward,” Martin told Heath Cline and Carey Rich. “They either got cleared to play this year. Or they’ve been cleared to play next year. Every one.
“There’s no reason why Brian will be treated differently than those guys. The only difference is all those guys, the information, the appeals, all those things, took place when everything hit last fall. Brian’s situation was not put in front of the people at the NCAA until he got to our campus.”
Bowen enrolled in January, which coincided with USC’s filing for reinstatement. He recently finished the spring semester with a 3.6 grade-point average, Martin said.
Jason Setchen, Bowen’s lawyer, told The State his client has enjoyed his Columbia experience and would like to stay, if given the opportunity. Martin has echoed the same.
“He wants to be in college,” Martin said Tuesday. “If he didn’t want to be in college, he wouldn’t have had a 3.4 (GPA) at Louisville and a 3.6 here. Think about his situation at Louisville that first semester when all this hit. He was basically ostracized, he was told, ‘Stay away.’ And he still had a 3.4.
“That should tell you the kind of values, the kind of person that he is, how much he cares about representing himself, his family and the school that he’s a part of the right way.”
Bowen, along with fellow Gamecock Chris Silva, is not projected to be selected in most mock NBA drafts. He competes this week with the likes of Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Auburn’s Austin Wiley, a couple players linked to the FBI case who have had their situations resolved.
“He’s the only one that’s still kind of out there,” Martin said. “So I’m optimistic that the ability to play at South Carolina is going to be put in front of him.”
When: Thursday, 3-7 p.m.
Friday, 3-7 p.m.
Location: Quest Multisport in Chicago