Ann Arbor — While the searing scandal regarding corruption in college basketball recruiting continues to unfold, one name linked to the ongoing FBI investigation has caught the attention of Michigan freshman guard Jordan Poole: Louisville freshman forward Brian Bowen.
Poole and Bowen were teammates as seniors last year at La Lumiere, a prep school in La Porte, Ind., and won the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals championship. But since winning a national title together, things have taken a turn for the worse for Bowen.
FBI documents allege Bowen, a former Michigan State target and Saginaw native, was funneled $100,000 to attend Louisville. The accusation has since led to Louisville ousting Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino and Bowen being suspended indefinitely.
Poole said he has reached out to Bowen in wake of the FBI shining a light on the shady underside of college basketball, but the conversation hasn’t centered around the allegations.
“I mean, he's still a friend,” Poole said last week during Michigan’s media day. “We still communicate, FaceTime and text, but we never really talked about the situation that's been going on. Kind of kept it low key. Obviously, it is what it is but I just talk about all the memories and stuff that happened."
According to The Courier-Journal, Bowen has hired an attorney in an effort to gain reinstatement but his chances of restoring eligibility are unlikely.
Poole said if Bowen is unable to play at all this season, it’ll be tough to see.
“Knowing that he had such amazing talent – and he still does – and being able to play with a guy like that last year and building a relationship and a bond that you have and to see one of your closest friends go through a situation like that it's something that we feel like you got to move on forward and keep his mind off of it,” Poole said.
Last month, the FBI dropped a bombshell when it announced its probe uncovered bribery, wire fraud and an alleged pay-to-play scheme involving coaches at some of the top programs in the nation, shoe and apparel executives, AAU coaches and former agents.
Poole said the news took the media and nation by storm, but Michigan coach John Beilein and the rest of his staff haven’t let it affect the team and distract their focus.
But as a four-star recruit who had no shortage of Division I offers and recently went through the recruiting process, Poole said being paid in exchange for commitment was something he hadn’t heard of.
“My parents always made sure that stuff like that wouldn't happen because it could jeopardize a lot of situations with kids,” Poole said. “But my parents and the coaching staff here made sure that things like that weren't going to happen.”
While nobody is certain where the FBI investigation will go and what it will mean for Bowen, Poole said regardless of what happens it doesn’t change his opinion of his former teammate.
“That's still my man, my brother,” Poole said. “We got a ring together, so there's not too much you can say.”