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Is Oregon Making Late Push for All-American Brian Bowen?

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Apparently, a “new” team has entered race for 5-star recruit

High School Basketball: McDonald's All-American Portraits Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Rumors have begun to surface that 5-star All-American Brian Bowen is stalling on Michigan State and Arizona because a “new” team has entered the fold. Apparently, this is why he has not made a college decision yet.

Bowen is the No. 13 overall prospect from an elite 2017 recruiting class. He is a 5-star recruit with a composite grade of 93 by ESPN. “Tugs” is rated as high as 99 compositely. He is ranked No. 3 at his position and No. 3 in his region, including No. 1 from the state of Michigan.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, just breathe.

It’s a rumor, first and foremost. I hate rumors. However, this one has some merit because it involves one of the best basketball prospects in the world and our beloved Ducks. Not to mention, Oregon just pulled the same maneuver with commit Kenny Wooten.

On Monday, the 4-star Wooten signed with the Ducks. Yet, Oregon was never really on his radar until late in the game. UCLA, Kansas and Arizona were the presumptive frontrunners as of 48 hours ago. The departure of UO’s “Big 3” is playing a huge role.

Let’s have some fun with this dream scenario, shall we? There is no harm in imagining the possibilities.

Aside from Brandon McCoy, Bowen is the prospect I covet most. At the start of the high school season, I listed Troy Brown Jr. as my favorite prospect in the country (before he committed to Oregon). Then I had DeAndre Ayton (before Arizona) and McCoy tied for second. My third favorite is Bowen, no question about it.

High School Basketball: 40th Annual McDonald's All-American Games
West player Brian “Tugs” Bowen (20) drives to the bucket against East forward Lonnie Walker during the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Game from the United Center in Chicago. Bowen has yet to decide on his collegiate future.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve never seen BB play, you should YouTube him right now. I’ll wait...

Maybe you already saw him play without noticing. If you watched any of the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Game or the Jordan Brand Classic, then you definitely saw Bowen doing work. The Michigan product has Odell Beckham Jr. hair and athleticism.

He was named co-MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic after an offensive display.

I must preface any excitement with some facts against Oregon’s cause:

1. Bowen grew up a Spartan fan from Saginaw, Michigan.

2. His cousin is MSU alum and former NBA player, Jason Richardson.

3. BB’s friend and high school teammate at La Lumiere is MSU commit Jaren Jackson Jr.

4. He has always had MSU in his top two, alongside Arizona.

5. Bowen was very interested in Creighton at one point, but that has subsided.

Now, let’s look at some positive signs:

1. Michigan State is LOADED with players, including Miles Bridges who is coming back for his sophomore campaign. This team will be built around the future NBA lottery pick. Some would say the Spartans have too many players for a scorer like Bowen. Less is more for a guy seeking minutes and volume during his freshman season. Tugs could be a one-and-done. He may want to be the star instead of being surrounded by them.

2. For all the talent in East Lansing, MSU has done very little recently. They were embarrassed by their worst season in years during 2016-17, including registering a record of 20-15. They were overwhelmed in the NCAA Tournament by No. 1 Kansas during the second round, even with Bridges.

3. Head coach Tom Izzo can be a bit much at times. For all the good he brings to a program, his recruits are beginning to diversify. What have you done lately is commonly asked by recruits. Sparty has little to show in the last two years especially.

4. Arizona head coach Sean Miller may have recruited too many stars to his program. Of course, that is never a bad thing until it becomes a bad thing. With so many mouths to feed in Tuscon, it could be tough to keep everyone happy. The No. 1 overall prospect, Ayton, is the chief concern of the program right now, not Brian Bowen.

5. MSU, Arizona and Creighton did not make it past the Sweet 16 this season.

6. Oregon just finished their greatest 3-year stretch in program history. In the last two years, the Ducks have appeared in the Elite Eight and Final Four. UO secured their first back-to-back Pac-12 regular season crowns this year. Additionally, Oregon just concluded their best season in program history (33-6). The green and yellow has won 64 games, while losing just 13 over the last two years. What have you done lately?

“I’ve just been analyzing all the schools, watching the games and everything,” said Bowen. “In April I’m definitely making my decision, 100 percent. I’m not sure what day yet, but 100 percent in April.”

As May draws closer, a decision is on the horizon. This comment makes me think he was weighing the outcome of the tournament to make his decision. You have to give the kid credit, he is pretty savvy to build the suspense around his choice.

Coincidently, 5-star commit Troy Brown Jr. may be the best Oregon salesman. It’s quite the luxury to possess the No. 1 point guard from the 2017 class, who is quickly becoming Oregon’s top pitchman.

High School Basketball: McDonald's All-American Portraits
Brian Bowen keeps surging up the ranks. After an appearance at the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago, the 6-foot-7 hybrid was named co-MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic. He has yet to name his collegiate destination.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Brown helped UO secure 4-star recruit Kenny Wooten Jr. from Nevada on Monday, alongside aiding with the commitment of Victor Bailey Jr. and Abu Kigab, respectively. The 6-foot-7 guard/forward is already making plays for the Ducks.

My favorite part about Twitter is the “undercover” lingo among friends and family. Inside jokes or phrases that leave us wondering, what does that mean?

Five days ago, Brown tweeted this:

No big deal, right? I would tend to agree, except for the fact that Brian Bowen actually liked this tweet. Does he know something we don’t? Is he just being friendly? Regardless, it gives more credence to the rumors circulating around Bowen.

The 6-foot-7 product is the best overall scorer in the 2017 recruiting class, in my opinion. I am slightly obsessed with his game. His decision could determine a great deal for the 2018 college basketball season.

The longer Bowen is silent, the better. We can only hope to hear a pin drop from his Twitter account this week that reads #AlwaysUs. That would be enough for me.

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