Louisville lands surprise commitment from Brian Bowen, last five-star in 2017

Louisville on Saturday secured the commitment of Brian Bowen, the final five-star player available in the class of 2017. 

The Cardinals were extremely late to the table with the intriguing wing prospect, but after Bowen visited the campus in late May, things swung heavily in favor of Rick Pitino's program. Bowen is a McDonald's All-American who picked U of L over the likes of Michigan State, Arizona, UCLA and Oregon, Texas, DePaul and Creighton. 

Bowen's official verbal pledge comes two days after the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Bowen enrolled at the University of Louisville. Summer classes start shortly at the school. 

Nobody was projecting Bowen to Louisville as recently as mid-May. Given that reality, his ironically fast decision comes as a fitting twist to his elongated and mysterious recruitment. Once upon a time, it seemed like Bowen was a Michigan State lean. Then, perhaps Arizona. Creighton, Oregon, Texas, even DePaul had realistic hopes. No one really knew, though, and even as the calendar was set to turn to June, coaches weren't sure when a commitment was coming.

What changed for Bowen? First of all, after Michigan State unexpectedly got Miles Bridges back and Arizona got Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins back in the mix, Bowen's decision was stalled. Bowen, who is from Michigan, wasn't even recruited by Louisville for most of the past two years. But in the past couple of weeks, something changed. Bowen had someone in his camp reach out to Louisville to gauge potential interest. The Cardinals originally offered Bowen in 2015, before interest from both sides cooled. With a scholarship still available for 2017-18, Pitino was open to adding a high-level prospect. 

Now the Cardinals have more depth after losing Donovan Mitchell (a possible lottery pick later this month) and Jaylen Johnson to early NBA Draft entry.

Bowen is a lean, muscular wing with a scoring streak, and probably a two-year player at the D-I level. The strange thing about him picking Louisville is the Cardinals already have a solid platoon of wings. If Bowen opted out of Michigan State or Arizona because of talent quota filled on the wing, it's not like Louisville's starving for another. The Cards have Deng Adel and V.J. King returning to a team that was a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament

Bowen joining Louisville would certainly bump the Cardinals up from their current standing in our preseason Top 25 (and 1) rankings. U of L sits at No. 7 right now. Going up to fifth seems sensible, though, and we'll be updating our rankings next week. Having seen Bowen play, knowing his style and what Louisville has on its roster for 2017-18, I think he will almost certainly average double digits in scoring next season. With Bowen in the mix, Louisville could become the favorite, over UNC, in the ACC next season. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his eighth season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics,... Full Bio

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