Alternate routes to the NBA have often gone through the G-League or Europe or China, but former McDonald’s All-American and ex-Louisville commit Brian Bowen will take a relatively new path beginning in Australia.
Bowen, a 6-foot-7, 202-pound wing, was ranked the No. 21 player in the 2017 class by Rivals.com. He signed with the Sydney Kings, according to a report Tuesday from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
“I am honored to be the first player under the NBL’s Next Stars program and feel it will be the perfect next step as I continue the path toward fulfilling my dream of playing in the NBA,” Bowen told ESPN.
In May, Bowen Participated in the NBA Draft Combine. At the time, it was unclear whether he would remain in the NBA Draft or return to college. Problem was, the NCAA had not given him any indication on his eligibility.
Bowen hovered at the center of the FBI’s investigation into corruption within the college basketball world. The FBI accused Adidas of paying $100,000 to Bowen’s family for his commitment to Louisville. The allegation led to the firing of former Louisville coach Rick Pitino. It also led to Bowen being ruled ineligible.
Due to the situation, Bowen transferred to South Carolina to play for coach Frank Martin. He practiced with the team, but he was never cleared by the NCAA, propelling him to enter the professional basketball universe.
After signing his professional contract, Bowen will become eligible for the 2019 NBA Draft. But first, he will play for the Sydney Kings alongside former No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut.
Australia is fairly new alternative option for those hoping to reach the NBA. One-time Alabama commit and now Oklahoma City Thunder forward Terrance Ferguson signed with the Adelaide 36ers back in 2016.
According to ESPN’s report Tuesday, the NBL will pay Bowen’s salary as part of the Next Stars program — not the Sydney Kings team he is playing for. With this move, it is apparent the league hopes exposure gained from Bowen’s signing will lead to more top prospect signings in the future.
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