• Now that five-star forward Brian Bowen has announced he's joining the Cardinals, it's worth breaking down what his addition could mean to Louisville.
By Tim Balk
June 02, 2017

Brian Bowen announced in a tweet his decision to commit to Louisville on Saturday, and nobody can say he rushed into the decision. Bowen, ranked No. 18 in his class by Scout, had been the only five-star player in the 2017 recruiting class yet to commit. 

More than two weeks after the signing period ended, his destination remained a conspicuous question mark. But things appeared to gain greater clarity Thursday when the Courier-Journal reported that Bowen enrolled for summer classes at Louisville.  The move represented a last minute jolt to the forward's protracted recruiting process.

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A 6’7” wing with an easy-flowing offensive game and a smooth, no-frills jumper, Bowen originally hails from Saginaw, Michigan but played his high school ball at the La Lumiere School in Indiana. Michigan State, Arizona and Texas were the headliners in Bowen’s original list of potential schools from September, which also included Creighton, North Carolina State and UCLA. He later expressed interest in DePaul and Oregon. In an interview with Rivals published in early May, Bowen said he was still talking to the same group of schools, plus Florida State.

But Louisville was a late add-on, with the Cardinals recently joining the Bowen sweepstakes when the swingman reportedly dropped by the Louisville campus at the end of May. Louisville’s class already included five-star power forward Malik Williams and a trio of four-star recruits. Now that Bowen is joining that group, it’s worth taking a look at what his decision might mean for the team. 

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The Cardinals will enter the 2017-18 season without their leading scorer from last year’s 25-win campaign, guard Donovan Mitchell, who decided to enter the NBA draft rather than return for his junior season. But there’s still plenty of reason for positivity for the team. Point guard Quentin Snider is coming back after posting 12.4 points and 4.1 assists per outing in 2016-17, forward Deng Adel (12.1 points, 4.5 rebounds per game) is too, and bigs Anas Mahmoud and Ray Spalding will continue to provide size in the paint.

On paper, the gains for the team seem to outweigh the losses. The Cardinals are losing a chunk of their roster, with forward Jaylen Johnson joining Mitchell in entering the NBA draft and 6’10” Mangok Mathiang graduating. But, aside from Mitchell, the big losses are in the post—where Louisville remains in solid shape.

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The Cardinals will need major production from Snider in the backcourt, and perhaps an immediate impact from four-star freshman guard Darius Perry. But it’s not a huge stretch to imagine either of those things happening. Meanwhile, Williams, the five-star forward, is one of three power forwards in the Cardinals' recruiting class. They should be just fine down low.

If Bowen is a game-changer off the bat, it could provide the push Louisville will need to compete for a national title. The Cardinals might lack a bit for offensive punch, and weren’t exactly the class of the ACC offensively even with Mitchell a year ago. So although Pitino said earlier this month he probably wouldn’t add another player to his class, it’s not hard to see why the coach might have changed his mind. We found out Saturday that Bowen has finally made up his. 

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