USC Men's Basketball

Brian Bowen the lone Gamecock invited to NBA Combine. What that could mean

South Carolina’s AJ Lawson talks NBA Draft, fashion

South Carolina freshman guard AJ Lawson spoke about his future during the Gamecock Gala event April 15, 2019.
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South Carolina freshman guard AJ Lawson spoke about his future during the Gamecock Gala event April 15, 2019.

South Carolina will be represented at the NBA Combine for a third straight year.

Kind of.

Brian Bowen, who spent the second half of the 2017-18 season practicing with USC, is one of 66 players invited to the combine, held May 15-19 in Chicago. The names for the NBA draft’s premier scouting event were released Wednesday.

A.J. Lawson, who is testing the draft waters after a stellar freshman season with the Gamecocks, didn’t make the list. Neither did senior Chris Silva.

New this year is an NBA G League Elite Camp, held May 12-14 at the same site as the combine. Lawson was invited to that event but declined, as ESPN’s Jonathan Givony first reported. Silva isn’t among the 40 draft-eligible players expected to attend the G League Camp, an event that will also include eyes of NBA scouts and team executives.

What’s it all mean?

If you’re not invited to the combine, there’s a good chance you’re not getting drafted. According to Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com, an average of 43 of the draft’s 60 picks were filled by combine participants over the past five seasons.

“Over the last five years, NBA teams have drafted a total of 11 college players who did not secure combine invitations,” Ditota wrote Tuesday.

Silva, who tested the draft waters last spring, wasn’t invited to the combine and returned to South Carolina for his senior year. Only five seniors were invited to this year’s combine, including Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield and Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon. Silva, a two-time All-SEC selection, worked out with the Atlanta Hawks last week and is scheduled to work out for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday. Most credible mock drafts don’t have Silva being selected in June’s two-round draft.

Lawson has until May 29 to decide whether to remain in the draft or return to school. A few national outlets already have the 6-foot-6 guard as a first round pick in 2020.

Bowen, who was eventually told he’d be ineligible to play college basketball in 2018-19, spent last season in an Australian professional league. The former McDonald’s All-American has second round potential, Givony told The State.

“Legitimate second round prospect,” Givony said. “Going to have to have a good process, combine, workouts. But he’s a legitimate second round prospect.”

Hassani Gravett, who ended his South Carolina career by taking SEC Sixth Man of the Year honors, will participate in the Professional Basketball Combine, May 21-22 in California. The PBC, according to its website, gives players “the opportunity to participate in private workouts and scrimmages, do combine testing, and interview for NBA GMs, NBA scouts, G League personnel and overseas (personnel).”

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.


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