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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

COLUMBIA - Chris Silva had to choose between the NBA and South Carolina, and on Monday he chose South Carolina.

Brian Bowen would make the same choice if he had those two options, said USC coach Frank Martin. But Bowen doesn't, because he can't get to that choice until he hears from the NCAA.

"If all options were equal, he'd be a Gamecock next year," Martin recently said. "But there's an unknown right now."

That unknown is precisely why Bowen entered the NBA draft without an agent, thus retaining his eligibility in case the NCAA does rule on him. The organization is on no timetable to issue any sort of ruling.

But Bowen needs to know something by May 30, giving him one week before he has to pull his name out of the draft or stay in. For him, it's simple - he hears from the NCAA by May 30 or he heads to the pros.

"It'll be good to have a couple of options," he said at the NBA Draft Combine. "Comes down to I don't have the chance to go back to school, then I'll just make my jump."

The frustration is mounting for all parties. Bowen attended the combine and showed potential to someday be a good pro player. But he hasn't played since his last high school game over a year ago.

Bowen is on no mock draft boards, and it's clear he's not ready to play in the NBA. Coming out of high school, he wasn't a consensus one-and-done either, since most felt his strength - his jump shot - needed a whole lot alongside it before he could make a pro roster.

He wants to improve his game and do it at USC, where he landed after the fallout from the FBI probe into college basketball got him shunned from Louisville. Yet if he doesn't get the word from the NCAA that his college career can proceed, he'll have no choice but to stay in the draft, most likely go undrafted and either head to the G League - the NBA's minor league basketball organization - or overseas.

"I haven't got any in-depth details, honestly," Bowen said about his communications with the NCAA. "I'm hearing the minimal and being given the minimal. We're really just on their time."

Martin and USC can't force the NCAA to do anything. If they loudly decreed that somebody up there needed to do something, the NCAA would still have no pressure to act. And based on past precedent, the NCAA wouldn't look kindly on schools challenging it.

Others are doing it for them. Bowen's lawyer, Jason Setchen, tweeted a request he hoped everybody would share. Whatever the answer would be in the case, Setchen said, should be released by May 30 in the interest of due process.

It was retweeted over 1,100 times.

Then there's Jay Bilas, a college basketball guru and one of the NCAA's most vociferous critics. He has said on record that what the NCAA is doing to Bowen is unfair, considering that the NCAA ruled on other players connected to the scandal and already meted out punishment while Bowen has been left in limbo.

If the NCAA rules Bowen eligible before May 30, the decision seems simple. He would return to USC, sit through whatever further punishment the NCAA decides (he could have to miss games even after being declared eligible) and eventually suit up.

But if he's not ruled eligible by May 30, he'll stay in the draft where he has very little chance of being picked, then begin his pro career somewhere.

Frustration and impatience will become anger and outrage as the clock ticks toward May 30, but none will have any effect on the NCAA making a decision.

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South Carolina's Brian Bowen participated in the NBA Combine and received his reviews, but still doesn't know what the NCAA will do about his college eligibility. AP Photo
 
May 23, 2018
 
 
 

 

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