By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Suspended Louisville freshman Brian Bowen Jr. has signed to play with South Carolina.
Bowen was held out of practices and games after Louisville announced it was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe of bribery in college basketball that led to the firing of coach Rick Pitino.
The 6-foot-7 forward enrolled at South Carolina this week. He will sit out the next two semesters before hitting the court, due to NCAA transfer rules.
“Brian deserves a fresh start,” Gamecocks coach Frank Martin said in a statement Wednesday.
Ten people, including four assistant coaches and Adidas executive James Gatto, were initially charged in the investigation. One of the coaches was Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, who was a member of Martin’s South Carolina staff from 2012-16.
Martin consulted with the university president, the board of trustees and athletic director Ray Tanner before getting the OK for Bowen to join the Gamecocks.
Bowen must be reinstated by the NCAA before he will be allowed to play. Tanner said the school’s compliance office will work with the governing body over the next few months to ensure Bowen’s eligibility to make it to the court.
Bowen was suspended by Louisville after news of an alleged payment involving the Cardinals and his father to get him to join that school. The federal complaint stated that 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 signed with Louisville last June and was expected to lead one of the Cardinals’ best recruiting classes in years.
Louisville announced in November that Bowen would not play for the Cardinals but added that it would honor his scholarship. He remained enrolled through the fall semester. University spokesman John Karman said Wednesday via text that Bowen did not enroll for the spring semester.
A call and email sent to Bowen’s attorney, Jason Setchen, from The Associated Press were not immediately returned.
The investigation resulted in the October firings of Louisville coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich. Pitino has repeatedly said he did not participate in or know about payments to a recruit’s family.
Bowen would certainly add a boost to the Gamecocks should he return to action.
South Carolina (10-5, 1-2 Southeastern Conference), which made the Final Four last season, is struggling through the early SEC season.
“Brian is an exceptional young man and a basketball player with a very high IQ for the game,” Martin said. “He brings a high-level skill set to the court and will make an immediate impact on our team with him joining us on the practice courts this week.”
AP Sports Writer Gary Graves in Lexington, Kentucky, contributed to this story.
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