The saga continues.
We found out yesterday that Brian Bowen, the former Louisville recruit at the heart of the scandal that ultimately wound up costing Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich their jobs, has enrolled at South Carolina and joined the Gamecock basketball team. If he’s cleared by the NCAA, Bowen will be eligible to compete during the second semester of next season.
South Carolina did not try to downplay the addition of Bowen, in fact, they publicized it on every form of social media. It even appeared as though Bowen was put through a photo/video shoot in USC garb before the official announcement was a made.
One of the secondary debates that has existed ever since the FBI story first broke was whether or not another school would take a flyer on Bowen. South Carolina did, and Frank Martin talked with CBS’ Matt Norlander on Thursday to try and explain why.
“When I started doing my legwork, every single person I talked to that has had any dealing with that young man or that family speaks about what a great, great kid he is,” Martin said. “He didn’t beat a girl up, he hasn’t raped anybody, hasn’t flunked 10 different drug tests. He’s a good kid. He isn’t a flunkie.”
Before the recruitment could begin, Martin had to go to his athletic director, Ray Tanner, who then had to go to university’s most powerful people to sign off on it. After the compliance office did its diligence on Bowen’s case, Martin was given the OK. The clinching fact that got South Carolina to this point was Bowen’s exoneration from the FBI.
”If the FBI still had an open investigation on him, do you think my superiors would have cleared this?” Martin said.
He also said he trusts Bowen and trusts the family after meeting with them.
”Chuck said the mom is great, and the dad is a good dude who got caught up with the wrong people,” Martin said.
Bowen is expected to miss games, but it is anyone’s guess as to how few or many -- or if he never sees the floor in college at all. Since Bowen is enrolled at South Carolina, he is able to practice effective immediately, according to Martin, who added that he did not anticipate putting Bowen on the floor with the team right away.
”He’s like a kid in a candy store right now,” Martin said. “Given what he’s been through, he’s got a very uplifting spirit. Quiet, very humble. Very engaging. The part that grabbed me: he’s just dying for someone to believe in him and give him a chance.”
So there’s that.
It also bears mentioning that Lamont Evans, one of the four assistants who was arrested by the FBI when this story first broke, was an assistant coach under Martin at South Carolina from 2012-2016 before leaving for Oklahoma State in April 2016. Evans was the man most credited for bringing stars Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier to USC.
Because Louisville never sought reinstatement for Bowen, it’s hard to forecast whether or not he’ll ever be cleared by the NCAA. My guess is he will — with some minor punishment — but that still doesn’t make it a certainty that he’s ever going to play college basketball.
Regardless of how Bowen’s situation eventually plays out, it’s likely to be a saga Louisville fans remained tuned into.