Saginaw's Brian Bowen attempts to revive basketball career in Australia

Associated Press
Saginaw native Brian Bowen opted to go pro rather than face more suspension time from the NCAA.

Sydney — Brian Bowen is hoping to revive his career by joining the Sydney Kings after missing out on his chance at college amid a federal investigation and then skipping the NBA Draft.

The Kings announced Wednesday the 19-year-old Bowen had become the first player to be signed as part of the Next Stars program in Australia’s National Basketball League.

The 6-foot-7 Bowen will join Andrew Bogut at the Kings and work under coach Andrew Gaze.

“It will be the perfect next step as I continue the path toward fulfilling my dream of playing in the NBA,” Bowen said in a statement released by the Kings. “I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to start my professional career and look forward to learning from all the team’s veteran pros. I can’t wait to get out to Sydney and join the team.”

Bowen, of Saginaw, turned pro in June after announcing he was leaving South Carolina after the NCAA told school officials he would miss at least all of next season with the Gamecocks. The NCAA based its decision on alleged benefits received by the Bowen family at his former school, Louisville, and the governing body’s transfer requirement of a year off the court. He later withdrew from the NBA draft.

Bowen transferred to South Carolina in January following his suspension from Louisville amid the federal probe after news of an alleged payment involving the Cardinals and his father to get him to join that school.

The federal complaint stated Adidas representative James Gatto and others attempted to funnel $100,000 to a recruit’s family to gain his commitment to play for Louisville. Bowen was not named in documents, but details made clear that investigators were referring to the freshman. Bowen has denied knowledge of any payment.

Jeremy Loeliger, chief executive of Australia’s NBL, tipped Bowen to follow a similar path to Oklahoma City Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson, who bypassed college and played for the Adelaide 36ers for a season before entering the NBA.

“We look forward to seeing him develop as a professional basketballer,” Loeliger said. “The NBL is the perfect league for Brian to transition from amateur to professional, and demonstrate to all the NBA scouts out there that he has what it takes to compete against grown men playing professional basketball.”

Loeliger said there were 10 Australians in the NBA and “Australian basketball is probably more highly regarded around the world than it has ever been.”