USC Men's Basketball

Exploring Brian Bowen's options as NCAA, NBA deadline looms

The deadline for early entry college players to decide to stay in the NBA draft or return to school is Wednesday. That’s all day Wednesday, as in until 11:59 p.m.

Every second could matter when it comes to Brian Bowen and South Carolina. The NCAA has yet to rule on the freshman’s eligibility. As of Tuesday afternoon, his clearest option of playing basketball during the 2018-19 season is at the professional level.

Jason Setchen, Bowen’s lawyer since the fall, when Bowen became centrally connected to an FBI investigation into college hoops, tweeted the following Saturday evening: “The fact that the NCAA is still sitting on the Bowen file is mind boggling. The NBA withdrawal deadline is May 30! There has been no new information on this case for 6 months. What are they waiting for? It is beyond egregious to do this to a 19 year old.”

The NCAA has not responded to a request by The State for information on the Bowen case. Meanwhile, the 6-foot-7 wing has worked out for a number of NBA teams, including the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons early last week.

Most popular NBA mock draft sites are not projecting Bowen to be taken during the two-round event on June 21, however.

Because he hasn’t played competitively in more than a year, Bowen is thought to best improve his stock by returning to USC and putting game action on film. But the former Louisville signee does not have that choice at the moment.

So what are his choices?

If he's not drafted, Bowen could be signed by an NBA team to a two-way contract, meaning he’d spend the bulk of next season in the G League and not more than 45 days with that NBA team. Former Gamecock P.J. Dozier did this with the Oklahoma City Thunder in October.

NBA teams, however, are allowed to sign only two players to two-way contracts. If Bowen doesn’t land a two-way deal, he can sign a standard one-year contract with the G League — and not an individual team — essentially becoming a free agent.

Bowen was asked during the NBA combine if he’d consider playing overseas, and he responded with: “To me, it’s really just school or the next level, NBA.”

There’s nothing stopping Bowen from removing his name from the draft, even if the NCAA hasn’t ruled on his eligibility before Thursday. But would he want to risk more waiting? Sure, the season doesn’t begin until November, but what if the NCAA, which has given no sign of urgency in this situation, waits until minutes before the opening game to tell him he can’t play? Now he’s lost two seasons of basketball.

It’s likely Bowen’s future is known this week.

Best case scenario: Bowen hears back from the NCAA before Thursday. But what comes next? South Carolina has long expected a suspension of some sort. Bowen’s father, allegedly, received $19,500 from Adidas in an effort to steer Bowen to sign with Louisville.

It's worth noting that Auburn’s Danjel Purifoy, whose mother, allegedly, received $11,000 from former Tigers assistant coach Chuck Person, was ruled ineligible all of last season and must sit the first 30 percent of 2018-19.

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