A top basketball recruit, whose unexpected decision to commit to Louisville became a focal point in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball, transferred to South Carolina, the school announced Wednesday. Brian Bowen was suspended by Louisville soon after the FBI revealed details of its probe in September, and his new school hopes to get him on the court next season.
Bowen wasn’t named in the FBI’s original complaint, but he was understood to be the player to whom the agency was referring when it charged an Adidas executive and others with agreeing to funnel $100,000 to a recruit’s family to get him to sign with Louisville. The fallout from the probe has included the dismissals of longtime coach Rick Pitino, who has repeatedly denied knowledge of any payments to players, a pair of assistant coaches and the school’s athletic director.
Bowen has also denied knowing anything about alleged payments to his family, and an attorney for the freshman, Jason Setchen, said in November that the FBI had cleared his client of any wrongdoing. However, Louisville declared later in the month that Bowen, a 6-foot-7 forward who was rated a five-star prospect, would not play for the Cardinals.
NCAA transfer rules mandate that a player such as Bowen, who was enrolled at Louisville for the fall semester but not the spring session, must sit out two semesters before playing for a new school. However, Setchen told ESPN on Wednesday, “We believe the NCAA, once they have heard all of the evidence, will promptly reinstate Brian.”
Meanwhile, both Bowen and South Carolina officials expressed happiness with his new situation. “I’m really excited to get an opportunity like this with a terrific coach like Frank Martin and a program like South Carolina,” he told ESPN.
“Brian is an exceptional young man and a basketball player with a very high IQ for the game,” Martin said in a statement. “He brings a high-level skill set to the court and will make an immediate impact on our team with him joining us on the practice courts this week. He is a strong, athletic small forward, who can really shoot the ball and rebound. Brian deserves a fresh start.”
“Over the coming months, we will work diligently with the NCAA through our compliance office to ensure that Brian is eligible for competition,” said the Gamecocks’ athletic director, Ray Tanner.
South Carolina has struggled a bit in its follow-up to a Final Four appearance last season, as Martin’s squad is 10-6 and 1-3 in SEC play. Bowen, a Michigan native who finished high school in Indiana, was a 2017 McDonald’s high school all-American and the Gatorade player of the year in Indiana.
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