On May 30, former 5-star recruit Brian Bowen was informed that he wouldn’t be eligible to play college basketball in the 2018-19 season. The NCAA announcement followed a long 2017-18 campaign spent on the sideline for Bowen, the former La Lumiere (Ind.) catalyst that led the Lakers to Super 25 and DICKS Nationals titles while emerging as one of the nation’s top prospects.
The twin decisions left Bowen with few options outside of an appeal to NBA teams themselves: Come pick me in the draft and free me from college basketball prison. Apparently that isn’t going to happen, either.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo, Bowen has now withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft. While he has yet to hire an agent, it’s clear that Bowen does not have a path back to NCAA competition, which means he’s left to compete either in the NBA G League or a foreign league next year. Australia has already been mooted.
To say that the latest development in Bowen’s career is dispiriting is an understatement. There’s no direct proof that Bowen knew his family was engaged in receiving improper benefits from Adidas officials. The FBI investigation into college basketball made it impossible for him to return to Louisville, but the secondary ban from South Carolina seemed cruel.
“I am completely devastated by the NCAA’s ruling,” Bowen said in a release to the media on May 30. “All I ever wanted to do was continue my education and play college basketball, however, after learning of the ruling, and discussing it with my family and attorney, I’ve decided to pursue my professional career. I’m grateful to the University of South Carolina and Frank Martin for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be a Gamecock.”
The bigger questions now shift to where Bowen can possibly go from here. While onetime Western Kentucky-commit Mitchell Robinson is universally considered a first round NBA Draft lock, Bowen’s stock had fallen off the table.
So where does a onetime can’t miss prospect go from here? The G League provides an outlet and a potential path back into the draft for 2019, assuming that’s something Bowen is amenable to. Could he play in LaVar Ball’s Junior Basketball Association, which kicks off June 21 in Southern California? Maybe.
Or maybe Bowen is now facing a future in Europe, tasked with the long road to the NBA taken by a number of one-time prep stars. That transition from prospect to project has been swift, ferocious and a stunning turn for a player who seemed to have the world, and a ball, on a string throughout his prep career.