University of Louisville

Louisville basketball lands Brian Bowen, its top-ranked commitment in nine years

Brian Bowen led La Lumiere (Ind.) to a national championship in high school basketball earlier this spring.
Brian Bowen led La Lumiere (Ind.) to a national championship in high school basketball earlier this spring. AP

Five-star basketball recruit Brian Bowen announced his commitment to the University of Louisville on Saturday, giving the Cardinals their most highly touted prospect in almost 10 years.

Bowen — a 6-foot-7 wing — was the last undecided McDonald’s All-American from the class of 2017. He had narrowed his recruiting list to Arizona, Creighton, Michigan State, North Carolina State and Texas going into the spring. He then added Oregon to his list and took an unofficial visit to that school last month.

Louisville did not emerge as a serious option in Bowen’s recruitment until last week.

It’s truly a long process. You don’t want to rush it. You have to take your time. ... There are so many factors.

Brian Bowen, Louisville basketball recruit

Bowen is the No. 18 overall player in the class of 2017, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and he will be the Cardinals’ top-ranked recruit since Samardo Samuels committed to U of L in 2008.

A native of Saginaw, Mich., Bowen finished his high school career at La Lumiere (Ind.), averaging 22 points per game this past season and leading his team to a national championship at the Dick’s Sporting Goods high school tournament in April.

Bowen spoke to the Herald-Leader a few weeks after that event, acknowledging his recruitment had gone on longer than he anticipated.

“I always looked at the guys like Jarrett Allen, those guys, and I was like, ‘Why are they taking so long? I will never be that guy.’ And now I’m that guy. It’s crazy,” Bowen said at the time.

“It’s truly a long process. You don’t want to rush it. You have to take your time. There are guys who are maybe staying in school, maybe going to the NBA. There are coaches getting fired. There are so many factors.”

Coincidentally, Bowen committed to Louisville on the same day — June 3 — that Allen’s commitment to Texas became public last year. Allen was also the final McDonald’s All-American in his class to make a college decision.

Bowen joins a U of L signing class that Coach Rick Pitino has called his best ever at the school.

Five-star center Malik Williams is the No. 25 overall player in the 2017 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. Point guard Darius Perry, who had a stellar showing at the Derby Festival Classic in Louisville, is the No. 68 player in the class.

The Cards’ other two signees — forwards Jordan Nwora and Lance Thomas — are both four-star recruits and considered to be top-125 prospects nationally.

All four of those players signed with Louisville in November. On the eve of college basketball’s fall signing period, Pitino heaped praise on his incoming class.

“We’re going to announce tomorrow the best recruiting class we’ve had in 16 years,” he said then. “We got everybody we wanted.”

Bowen’s addition will push the Cards from No. 9 to No. 6 nationally in the 247Sports composite team rankings for the 2017 class. U of L was already considered a preseason top-10 team for the 2017-18 campaign, and the incoming recruits will join a core of returning players that include Quentin Snider, Deng Adel, Ray Spalding, Anas Mahmoud and V.J. King.

“We are extremely excited to have Brian with us,” Pitino said in a statement. “He’s extremely versatile and can play almost four positions. He’s an outstanding scorer, a terrific passer and someone who just really knows how to play the game. This gives us a deep, talented team and we look forward to playing another exciting schedule.”