The NCAA shoe scandal ended Brian Bowen II’s chances of playing collegiately.
The former 5-star prospect from Saginaw considered Europe and the Gatorade League.
He settled on playing in Australia’s National Basketball League.
Bowen, who worked out for the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, picked the route as the best path to the NBA. But it turned out to have another benefit.
After facing questions over his involvement in the scandal going through the 2018 draft process, Bowen said it’s rarely come up this time around.
And with the FBI investigation leading to trials and multiple convictions of shoe company representatives and assistant coaches, Bowen worked on his craft halfway around the world.
The 20-year-old appreciates the months away from the spotlight.
“Going over there, you didn’t get tons of media attention about that situation, but just about me getting acclimated playing in a different country,” Bowen said. “That was the good part about being in a whole different country while all this stuff was happening over here.”
Bowen starred at Saginaw Arthur Hill before transferring to an Indiana prep school for his last two prep seasons. He scored 26 points on 6-for-7 3-point shooting in the 2017 Jordan Brand Classic.
He committed to Louisville, but never played for the Cardinals, as he was suspended from basketball activity by the school after FBI investigators charged Adidas executive James Gatto, former Adidas consultant Merl Code, sports agent Christian Dawkins and financial adviser Munish Sood with conspiring to pay Bowen’s family $100,000 to steer him to Louisville.
Bowen’s father testified during the trial and the scandal led to the firing of Louisville coach Rick Pitino. The scandal is still yielding convictions.
But while the case proceeded last year, Bowen was away from the distraction.
“Just throw it in the past, in a sense,” Bowen said. “There’s still certain things I can’t say about it, but I learned from it. I learned people’s situations are way worse than mine. Mine was about basketball and there’s people with life-or-death situations.”
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Bowen enrolled at South Carolina after being suspended by Louisville, but NCAA declined to grant him eligibility. He declared for the 2018 NBA draft and attended the annual predraft combine in Chicago before withdrawing his name.
Next stop, the Sydney Kings.
Bowen was the first to enter the league’s Next Stars program, which is designed to attract foreign players for NBA development.
“It felt like the plan that they had over there was a great system,” Bowen said. “Going over there, trying to get improvement, English-speaking country so it was an easy lifestyle.
“It’s a great situation and if you’re mature about the situation, I feel like it’s a great move. Whether you just don’t want to go to school or whatever, it’s a great situation to start your pro career at a young age.”
NBA scouts were regularly at Kings games and practices, and he is all in for the 2019 NBA draft, which will be held June 20.
Bowen, who stands 6-foot-7 ½ and weighs 200 pounds, fits a Pistons need of size at the wing spots and he projects to be a 3-point threat.
Bowen is considered a second-round possibility and the Pistons hold a pick (45th overall) along with a first-round pick for the draft.
If he hears his name called, he will owe thanks to Australia where he declined to try Vegemite.
But he did try another Australian delicacy — kangaroo.
“It’s kind of like roast beef, but way more chewier,” he recalled with a laugh. “I only ate it one time, but I just wanted to try it.”
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Published at Wed, 12 Jun 2019 23:00:35 +0000