Pacers Sign Brian Bowen to Contract as Undrafted Free Agent After 2019 Draft

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2019

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 03: Brian Bowen of the Kings looks on during warm up before game two of the NBL Semi Final series between the Sydney Kings and Melbourne United at Qudos Bank Arena on March 03, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Brian Bowen will sign a two-way contract with the Indiana Pacers after going undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft Thursday night, according to Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo and ESPN's Jonathan Givony.

Once a 5-star recruit, the 20-year-old has endured a tumultuous road to get to this point.

Bowen originally committed to play college basketball at Louisville; however, he never played a minute for the Cardinals after getting suspended. Per CBS Sports' Kyle Boone, the FBI uncovered that "representatives of Adidas agreed to funnel $100,000 to the family of Bowen in an effort to steer him to Louisville."

The 6'7½" forward transferred to South Carolina in January 2018. Unfortunately for him, though, the NCAA ruled he would not be eligible for the 2018-19 season.

He decided to declare for the 2018 NBA draft but later withdrew. According to Stadium's Jeff Goodman, it was unlikely Bowen would have been drafted last year:

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanHoops

I think Brian Bowen got sound advice from whatever agent he has/will sign with to withdraw from the draft. Try and go overseas, get back in game shape, get stronger, gain confidence and try and get picked in top 40 of draft next year. Wasn’t going to be drafted this year.

Bowen then went overseas to play for the Sydney Kings, who are part of Australia's National Basketball League (NBL). He credited that with helping him focus on his game.

"Going over there, you didn't get tons of media attention about that situation, but just about me getting acclimated playing in a different country," Bowen said June 12, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. "That was the good part about being in a whole different country while all this stuff was happening over here."

Then-Sydney coach Andrew Gaze called Bowen "mature beyond his years"—and he's not the only one to be impressed.

"He's got a chance to be an NBA player," Bowen's former Kings teammate and current Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut told Bleacher Report's Mirin Fader earlier this year. "He still needs to be developed a bit, but he has all the tools to be an NBA player."

Now, it will be up to Bowen to prove the Pacers right for giving him an opportunity. And he's ready for that challenge.

"I'm willing to do whatever I can to help a team win," Bowen told Fader. "... I have a chip on my shoulder at all times. I feel like I have a lot to prove. I'm going to do whatever I can to achieve my goals. I'm not going to let anybody stop me."