Brian Bowen: ‘They took the game away from me.’
This could very well be the final week of Brian Bowen's college basketball career.
South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner, appearing Wednesday on 107.5 The Game, didn't sound confident the NCAA would rule on Bowen's eligibility status before the rapidly approaching deadline for early entry college players. Bowen has until May 30 to decide whether to stay in the NBA draft or return to USC.
However, as has been well-documented, the freshman is still waiting to be reinstated by the NCAA. The pro route might be his only option.
“I’m a little bit pessimistic that we’re going to have all the information that we need in the next seven days," Tanner said.
Bowen, of course, is in this position after being connected to the FBI's probe into the sport. According to federal documents, Bowen's father allegedly received $19,500 from Adidas to help steer Bowen to Louisville. (Bowen has denied knowledge of the transaction.)
Bowen, a 6-foot-7 former McDonald's All-American, left the Cardinals in November and enrolled at South Carolina in January, where he could only practice with the Gamecocks.
USC filed for Bowen's reinstatement shortly thereafter.
"With the DOJ (U.S. Department of Justice) being involved, the NCAA being involved, other people being involved, I don’t know if we’ll get the answer in a timely fashion," Tanner said. "But it does seem reasonable that Brian Bowen will be able to make a decision based on the knowledge that he has about his eligibility and whether he decides to go pro or not.
"You’d like to think that he would have all the information that he needs to make a decision. And I’m not sure that’s going to happen.”
Bowen, who competed at the NBA combine in Chicago last week, is not projected to be taken in the two-round draft on June 21. Both Bowen's coach (Frank Martin) and lawyer (Jason Setchen) have expressed his intention to play for the Gamecocks.
But there's a strong chance he won't have that option.
"It would be good to have a couple options whether to stay in the draft or go back to school," Bowen said last Thursday. "But when it comes down to it, and if I don’t have a chance to go back to school, I’ll just make my jump.”
Tanner said USC'has received "vague" responses from the NCAA on the Bowen situation.
"I’m not one to pile on the NCAA, I think they get that enough," he said. "They do a lot of good things they don’t get a lot of credit for. But it's (the investigation) just not complete. There are still questions that are being asked, there’s some determinations to be made.
“And where you and I sit, we think, ‘Well, hey, get the information that you need and make a decision.’ And I guess it’s easier for us to look at it that way than what they have to do.
"I’m still holding out a little bit of hope that there’s some direction before we get to the end of this thing, where he knows what he can consider.”