Report: South Carolina's Brian Bowen to Declare for NBA Draft if not Cleared by NCAA

Bowen transferred to South Carolina from Louisville after the FBI's investigation into Rick Pitino. 
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Former Louisville signee and current South Carolina freshman Brian Bowen said Wednesday he would declare for the NBA draft if he is not cleared by the NCAA for next season, ESPN reports.

Bowen is seeking reinstatement to the NCAA at South Carolina with an eye toward returning to the court as soon as possible, perhaps as early as next season. But if he is not cleared, Bowen said he would declare for the draft without signing with an agent to preserve his collegiate status.

"I just felt that it was the right decision," Bowen told ESPN on Wednesday. "My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases."

Bowen, who was a McDonald's All-American, is believed to be the person referred to in the government lawsuit against former Adidas executive James Gatto as "Player-10." In the complaint, Adidas executives were accused of funneling $100,000 to Bowen's family—with coach Rick Pitino's knowledge—to secure Bowen's commitment to Louisville. He committed to Louisville in early June despite the Cardinals' being one of the last teams to recruit him.

Bowen has denied having any knowledge of the alleged payment.

Shortly after the complaints, which were the result of a multiyear FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting, became public, Bowen was suspended by Louisville. He was cleared for reinstatement after he was cleared by the FBI but did not play this season, and Louisville announced in November that he would not appear for the team this year.

"This is a mature move from Brian," Bowen's lawyer, Jason Setchen, told ESPN. "We're hopeful and have faith that the NCAA will make the right decision and allow Brian to play next season for South Carolina, but he'll also have the opportunity to be drafted if that doesn't happen."

Bowen's draft status is uncertain, as scouts have yet to see what the 6-foot-7 forward can do against college level competition. ESPN reported multiple NBA executives project Bowen, the 14th ranked player in the country out of La Porte, Indiana, as a second-round pick.

"He's a little bit of a mystery because most of us haven't seen him since the McDonald's Game practices last year," one NBA executive told ESPN. "I think he'll be invited to the combine, and if he does, he'll have a chance to really help himself."