A day after veteran Gamecocks big man Chris Silva declared his intentions to explore the NBA Draft process, forward Brian Bowen followed that lead and submitted his own name. Like Silva, Bowen has not retained an agent, so he has the option to return to South Carolina.
Bowen, a former five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American, transferred to the Gamecocks from Louisville after the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption descended upon that program. Bowen was one of the key figures that ultimately led to the dismissal of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, with Bowen’s father allegedly receiving payments from Adidas to steer his son to play for the Cardinals. Louisville suspended Bowen indefinitely when the initial news broke, then granted him his release in the aftermath.
Bowen, for his part, has contended that the money changed hands without his knowledge — but his NCAA eligibility is still up in the air. He sat out this past season per the usual transfer rules, and when Bowen was admitted, coach Frank Martin seemed confident he could play in 2018-19. But the NCAA is notoriously difficult to predict in situations such as these, and especially now that the sport as a whole is dealing with widespread scandal.
I’ve been increasingly doubtful that Bowen would ever suit up for the Gamecocks, and while he hasn’t hired an agent yet, his odds of returning to South Carolina seem low. Given that Bowen is the highest-rated prospect the Gamecocks have ever had, it would be tough to lose him without him even seeing the court. But it’s smart for Bowen to examine his options and get an NBA evaluation, because there’s no telling if the NCAA will allow him the chance to play college basketball.