Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Following FBI scandal, Brian Bowen in ‘uncharted waters’ at NBA Draft Combine
By ADAM ZAGORIABrian Bowen is in “uncharted waters” at this stage of his basketball career.
That is how one college basketball source described his situation to ZAGSBLOG.
The 6-foot-6 wing whose situation led to the firing of former Louisville coach Rick Pitino has stated to ESPN that his “goal is still to play college basketball,” but he’s participating in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago “to cover my bases.”
Bowen has worked out for the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets with the Knicks on deck this holiday weekend. He has until May 30 to withdraw from the draft and return to college.
“It’s still an ongoing process,” Bowen told reporters in Chicago after a poor performance in the 5-on-5 scrimmage in front of NBA personnel. “I’m just focusing on my Combine stuff right now. And my lawyer and the school [South Carolina], it’s still a process so they’re going through that right now. So they’ll just let me know what happens.”
Asked if all of this uncertainty was impacting his future, he added: “Of course, of course. It would be good to have a couple options, whether to stay in the draft or go back to school.”
At this moment in time, Bowen appears to have neither of those options.
The NCAA has not yet cleared him to play during the 2018-19 season, even as they cleared Auburn players Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy to play following their connection to a federal complaint that led to the firing of former assistant coach Chuck Person. (Wiley is also at the Combine.)
On the other hand, Bowen doesn’t appear at all ready for the NBA yet, either.
Where he will be at the start of the 2018-19 season remains an open question. At South Carolina? On an NBA G League roster? Overseas somewhere? Who knows?
“The NCAA must make a ruling on Brian Bowen’s eligibility before the May 30 deadline to withdraw from NBA draft pool,” his lawyer Jason Setchen Tweeted, encouraging others to “Please Retweet” the message. “Regardless of how you feel about Brian’s case, can we agree that win or lose he deserves due process after almost a year in limbo.”
Bowen has not signed with an agent and is still technically able to return to play in college. The problem is, the NCAA hasn’t told him whether he is eligible or not.
“It’s a shame that the NCAA is hanging him out to dry,” one NBA source said. “Really a shame. If the kid knew he was eligible, he would not even be here. He would be back at South Carolina.”
After his performance in the first set of scrimmages Thursday, the NBA source added: “He’s not ready to play in the NBA.”
Bowen was admitted to South Carolina in January after he transferred from Louisville when the news came out that his family was involved in the FBI probe into college basketball corruption. His father, Brian Bowen Sr., was allegedly set to receive $100,000 from Adidas in return for his commitment to Louisville and to then sign with Adidas upon turning pro.
The scandal cost Pitino and former Louisville AD Tom Jurich their jobs. Pitino has steadfastly maintained his innocence and still hopes to get back into coaching.
Meantime, South Carolina is awaiting word from the NCAA, and one source close to Bowen said the NCAA is being hypocritical in not allowing Bowen to play in college.
“Why do the Auburn players get cleared and he doesn’t get cleared?” the source close to Bowen said.
“If the NCAA is being true to itself about we’re an amateur league and we’re all about the student-athlete, well here’s a kid who’s yelling, ‘I want to go to college.’ He’s screaming it out, ‘I want to go to college, I do not want to go to the G League.’ And he himself has not been accused of anything, so you’re not going to clear him?”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.