The South Carolina basketball scene got quite the shock this past Wednesday when 6-foot-7 small forward Brian Bowen announced he was going to leave Louisville and transfer to the Gamecocks.
Bowen was a five-star recruit, ranked as the 19th overall player in the 2017 recruiting class and the fifth overall small forward. A talent such as Bowen hasn't been around the Gamecocks' program since Frank Martin landed Sindarius Thornwell roughly five years ago, but the key question still remains: How did Brian Bowen end up at South Carolina?
Brian Bowen was a phenom in high school. His highlight mixtapes show a lanky forward that has the ball skills of a guard and the aggressiveness of a power forward. Bowen repeatedly makes it look easy getting to the rim and scoring, but he also shows off his shooting range by draining several deep threes.
The tall, lanky guard will no doubt beef up after an offseason with Frank Martin and his coaching staff, which will only allow Bowen's talents to shine brighter come next season.
Out of high school, Bowen had numerous offers from top schools including Arizona, Kentucky, Duke and, the school he originally committed to, Louisville. Bowen committed to the Cardinals in August of 2017, but everything went downhill from then on.
Bowen was tied up in the FBI's investigation that exposed Rick Pitino for running a "pay-to-play" scandal in which players and their families would receive lump sums of cash in return for their sons' commitments. Bowen, who has since stated that he had no knowledge of the money, is now seeking reinstatement by the NCAA at South Carolina.
Normally, a transfer is required to sit out competition for two semesters before becoming eligible to return.
Bowen has been admitted at South Carolina, and while his reinstatement is still up in the air, he has been able to practice with the team. His teammate Rakym Felder, who also just rejoined the Gamecocks, noted it was nice to get on the court with Bowen.
Even if Bowen does have to sit out the remainder of this season, practicing with the team will allow him to better understand Frank Martin's teaching style and to develop stronger relationships with his teammates, both of which will translate into a better overall performance on the court.
Bowen is the scoring threat that the Gamecocks needed to add in order to have a successful 2018 season. Add in more experienced guard play from the likes of Felder, Gravett, Minaya and more in combination with leadership from Chris Silva, and the Gamecocks could become a serious contender to make another March Madness run. This may be considered a down year for the Gamecocks after last year's success, but the future is looking bright for Gamecock basketball.