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Former 5-Star Recruit At Center Of Louisville Scandal Signs With New Team

Brian Bowen playing for La Lumiere.

We've seen a rise in top basketball talents finding alternate routes to get to the NBA and bypass the league's one-and-done rule. Former Louisville commit and South Carolina enrollee Brian Bowen is blazing a new trail in Australia.

Bowen was the five-star recruit at the center of the ongoing FBI probe into college basketball, as it relates to Louisville. It has been alleged that his family was paid $100,000 by Adidas to commit to the program.

He was set to play for the Cardinals until the story initially broke. Afterwards, he elected to transfer to South Carolina, as he waited for an NCAA decision on his eligibility.

That decision came, and it wasn't a positive for Bowen. The NCAA ruled that he was still ineligible for 2018-19.

Bowen declared for the NBA Draft without signing an agent, leaving the door open to play for the Gamecocks. However, he was never cleared, and did not choose to remain in the NBA Draft itself. Rather than wait out another year on a college campus, or head to the G-League, or another overseas league, he will be the first player to play in the Australian NBL's "Next Stars" program. He will play for the Sydney Kings.

ESPN broke the news on Brian Bowen's unique decision to play in Australia.

Bowen's camp sent a release to ESPN this afternoon:

"I am honored to be the first player under the NBL's Next Stars program and feel 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 release provided to ESPN. "In joining the Sydney 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, like Andrew Bogut, Jerome Randle and Brad Newley. I can't wait to get out to Sydney and join the team."

The NBL announced the launch of this new initiative to draw top young talent back in March. It comes after Terrance Ferguson, a former top American recruit, chose to play a year in Australia.

He wound up being a 2017 first-round pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBL is using his experience as a model for this "Next Stars" program, which it hopes will challenge both the NCAA and G-League as post-high school options for top players.

From the league's announcement of the program:

Next Stars players must be eligible to nominate for the NBA Draft, and will be hand-picked by a panel of experts to be appointed by the NBL. Once selected, the pool of Next Stars players will enter into a contract with the league which will then place the Next Stars in NBL teams. Further details of how they will be placed will be announced shortly.

Those players selected will play at least one season with an NBL Club before nominating for the NBA Draft the following year (or potentially the season after).

Kestelman said the program would be funded by the NBL in its first year, so that clubs could add an extra player to the 11 players currently on their rosters without any significant burden on them financially. Any transfer fees that may be payable would be shared between the league and the relevant club.

Contract details are not yet public, but one would assume that the one-year deals will be more lucrative than what is offered in the G-League. The NBL is also promoting player development both on and off the court. The transition to playing in Australia is probably less jarring than doing so in a non-English speaking country as well.

It will be interesting to see how this year goes for Bowen. If it's positive, and the financial incentive is there, this could be a solid option for players, until the NBA does what many expect and ditches the one-and-done rule in a few years down the road.

[ESPN]