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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)
COLUMBIA — The highest-rated recruit in program history won't come without controversy.
South Carolina announced the signing Wednesday of former five-star prospect Brian Bowen, a 6-7 small forward ranked as high as 14th in the country, and hopes to have him on the court by mid-December. The reason Bowen hasn't yet begun his college career is he was swept up in the FBI probe that rocked the sport and alleged that Bowen's father, Brian Bowen Sr., accepted part of a promised $100,000 payout to get his son to Louisville.
The fallout from the scandal caused Louisville to fire coach Rick Pitino and athletics director Tom Jurich. The school suspended and then released Bowen, who was not charged by the FBI in connection with the probe and told ESPN he had no knowledge of his father's actions.
Bowen told ESPN he wanted to play college basketball somewhere. That somewhere became USC after Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin, athletic director Ray Tanner and school president Harris Pastides cleared him to enroll.
"Brian deserves a fresh start and I would like to thank our university administration, President Pastides, our Board of Trustees and Ray Tanner for their hard work and guidance in helping Brian become a member of our Gamecock family," Martin said in a statement.
"What better coach is there to help Brian grow as a student-athlete, and more importantly as a young man, than Frank Martin and his staff?," Tanner said in a statement. "Over the coming months, we will work diligently with the NCAA through our compliance office to ensure that Brian is eligible for competition."
The Gamecocks announced that Bowen will sit out the next two semesters in accordance with NCAA transfer rules, meaning the earliest he could suit up would be the middle of next season. In past cases, a semester was ruled complete the day after the last exam is given, so according to USC's academic calendar, Bowen would be cleared to play on Dec. 18.
Yet Tanner's comments about the NCAA hold weight. The sport's governing body could decide Bowen has to sit more games if they rule that Bowen's father did accept money. USC was also connected to the FBI probe due to the alleged actions of former assistant coach Lamont Evans, but neither the school, basketball program or Martin have been investigated because of it.
For now, Bowen is on campus and was getting his medical exam and other paperwork completed Wednesday. The spring semester begins Tuesday.
Coming off the finest season in program history, Martin desired to take advantage of USC's resurgent popularity. With middling results from a young and injured team this season, the impact needed to be reflected in his next recruiting class, but the early period passed without the Gamecocks signing anybody.
Bowen drastically changes that. A consensus top recruit, he's easily the most lauded player the Gamecocks have ever signed and is just the fifth McDonald's All-American in program history (Terry Dozier, BJ McKie, Rolando Howell, P.J. Dozier).
Bowen averaged 21 points and seven rebounds per game at La Lumiere School (Ind.) after playing two seasons at Arthur Hill (Mich.) High. He was named the East Team MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic after scoring 26 points in 20 minutes.
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