Louisville Coach Rick Pitino told WHAS-840 Radio’s Terry Meiners shortly after Brian Bowen committed to the Cardinals:

“We got lucky on this one. I had an AAU director call me and ask me if I’d be interested in a player. I saw him against another great player from Indiana. I said ‘Yeah, I’d be really interested.’ They had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotel, pay for their meals. We spent zero dollars recruiting a five-star athlete who I loved when I saw him play. In my 40 years of coaching this is the luckiest I’ve been.”

(9-27-17) NCAA DI College Basketball’s FRAUD scandal now looks to involve high school basketball players at the heart of problem, that include payments being made by shoe company Adidas, that also involves college assistant basketball coaches.

Brian Bowen, a 6-8 forward who averaged 21.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game led La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) to national prominence in 2017. LaLumiere, a prep school, not affiliated with the Indiana High School Athletic Association, brings in some of the best players from around the US.

Although not identified in the FBI’s 29-page criminal complaint, the document points directly in the direction of both Bowen, Louisville and an Adidas executive who is accused of paying Bowen’s family $100,000 to play for the Cardinals, an Adidas-sponsored school.

Bowen’s mother, Carrie Malecke, told the Courier-Journal:

“I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know anything about that. I’m not aware of anything like that. Not me. I had no idea.”

Louisville Coach Pick Pitino in a prepared statement released by his lawyer:

“These allegations come as a complete shock to me. If true, I agree with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that these third-party schemes, initiated by a few bad actors, operated to commit a fraud on the impacted universities and their basketball programs, including the University of Louisville. Our fans and supporters deserve better and I am committed to taking whatever steps are needed to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”

Bowen transferred to LaLumiere after moving from Saginaw (Michigan) where he played his freshman and sophomore years.

Greg McMath, who coached Bowen for two seasons at Arthur Hill HS told USA Today High School Sports:

“Very shocked, very sad for that kid. He is a tremendous kid, a tremendous person. You hear something like that and it’s blowing my mind. I’ve been around the kid for probably the fifth or sixth grade. … They are such a good family, well respected in Saginaw. They always did a great job financially of taking care of Tugs. It’s a tough time right now because I’m so close to the kid. You’re still trying to get over the shock.”

High school basketball continues to get major media attention, players transfer at will from one school to another, including non-state association affiliated schools who have no rules on players sitting out a season who transfer to play sports.

Chino Hill’s LaMelo Ball, whose brother was drafted #2 overall by the LA Lakers, has a signature shoe deal already.  The shoe will be sold by his family’s apparel company, Big Baller Brand and is named the Melo Ball 1 and will sell for $395.

If Bowen was the only player to receive cash to play basketball it would not be a scandal, but there are many, many, more players to be revealed very soon as the investigation continues. The NCAA needs to consider recruitment methods, including commitments from 6th graders in the future. DI College commitment time is now a media circus for almost any player in any sport.  DI basketball is out of control and heads are still spinning.

The future of high school sports will have to be reviewed by all of those involved, high school associations, school administrators, coaches, players and family. The issue of transferring (sometimes multiple times) have to be dealt with, players playing on AAU teams, AAU coaches coaching a high school team, super-camps that give players shoes etc for showing up….it has turned into a quagmire of issues.

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