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  1. Gamecocks picked to finish 11th in SEC; Silva makes All-Conference First Team (AUDIO) OCTOBER 17, 2018 Gamecocks HC Frank Martin addresses the media at SEC Media Days (Southeastern Conference) The Southeastern Conference media does not expect a significant jump-off for the South Carolina Gamecocks, projecting them for an 11th place finish out of 14 teams in the SEC. The media picked the Gamecocks to finish in the exact position they ended last year, 11th place, after going 17-16 overall and 7-11 in the SEC. Kentucky was picked to finish as the 2018-19 SEC Champion, with last year’s champion, Auburn, selected third. Media-projected SEC order of finish Kentucky Tennessee Auburn Mississippi State Florida LSU Alabama Vanderbilt Missouri Arkansas South Carolina Texas A&M Georgia Ole Miss South Carolina senior forward Chris Silva, last-season’s SEC co-defensive player of the year, was a first team selection to the preseason All-SEC first team. Joining Silva were, Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford, Kentucky’s Reid Travis, LSU’s Tremont Waters and preseason player of the year, Grant Williams of Tennessee. South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin expounded on his Monday comments about the state of college basketball and talked more about his team for the upcoming year in his SEC Media Day address Wednesday: South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin
  2. After rough year, Frank Martin in a ‘better place’ with USC in this part of the game Oct. 09, 2018 THE STATE A.J. Lawson had a powerful one-hander. Hassani Gravett rocked the rim after a glass-kissing dish from Tre Campbell. And Chris Silva stayed true to form with a strong finish to an alley-oop. The above describes some notable dunks from South Carolina’s “Gamecock Tip-Off” event held last Friday at Colonial Life Arena. The below describes the night’s best layup. Frank Martin, playing a Family Feud-style game against Dawn Staley, correctly answered a question at midcourt, grabbed the basketball and dribbled cautiously – “That’s the most running I’ve done in a long time,” he said – to one end of the floor. Before his shot attempt, he glanced over to the USC bench and noticed a line of smiles. “I figured Chris was over there saying something,” Martin said. “And I saw Hassani’s face and I said, ‘Let me imitate him.’” In a move Martin reports is something he’s seen every day throughout Gravett’s career, the seventh-year Carolina coach put his left hand on the back of his head while banking home the layup with his right. Laughter ensued. The University of South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin makes a goofy layup during a tip-off event at the Colonial Life Arena. 10/5/18 “I’m just happy it went in,” Martin said, “or I never would have heard the end of it.” By a certain measure, this 2018-19 team is one of the most experienced Martin’s had since coming to Columbia from Kansas State in March 2012. Gravett is one of five returning Carolina players – joining Silva, Maik Kotsar, Justin Minaya and Evan Hinson – to start at least 50 percent of last season’s games. The Gamecocks last had those numbers entering 2014-15 when Sindarius Thornwell, Demetrius Henry, Mindaugas Kacinas, Duane Notice and Michael Carrera were all back after a combined 132 starts the previous year. Such familiarity not only allows Martin to perform perfect imitations of players like Gravett, it has him pleased with something he felt the Gamecocks struggled with all last winter. “I was never really happy with our leadership last year,” Martin said. “It doesn’t mean that they were bad, I just wasn’t happy with how it was being handled. “And these two guys (Gravett and Silva) here, Maik, Justin, Felipe (Haase), that nucleus of guys that played a lot of minutes for us last year, they’re in a much better place right now. As players, as people. I’m more comfortable with who they are. For people to lead, they got to be comfortable with who they are first. And so they’re doing a better job.” Silva, as both he and Martin admitted on several occasions, tried to take on a captain’s role last season, but it didn’t produce the results either wanted. The Gamecocks, a year after making the Final Four, finished 17-16 and missed on the postseason altogether. Off their 12 losses in SEC play, seven came by seven points or fewer. “Last year, I was accepting a new role,” said Silva, a senior and reigning SEC co-defensive player of the year. “So my leadership role, my experience was a little bit low. I didn’t really know what to do. I was feeling confused or overwhelmed. I was just trying to go to (Martin) and trying to learn as much as possible. … I was teaching guys while trying to be on top myself. “Everybody, the returners are in a much better place. So I know I’m not the only one trying to lead the team. We’re having fun at practice, practicing hard, trying to help the young guys. We’re just following the leadership of Coach.” This year’s vets are being blended with seven new faces, including five freshmen and Campbell, a graduate transfer. Less than a month before the season opener, Martin is satisfied with the progress. “We’re way ahead of where I thought we’d be,” Martin said. “We’re way ahead, not even close. The returning guys have been great.”
  3. Frank Martin, Chris Silva, Hassani Gravett News Conference (Gamecock Tipoff) — 10/5/18
  4. Start time, details released for South Carolina basketball ‘Tipoff’ event Sept. 26, 2018 South Carolina’s version of “Midnight Madness” will begin before 6 p.m. The USC men’s and women’s basketball programs on Tuesday announced additional details for “Gamecock Tipoff,” set for Oct. 5 at Colonial Life Arena. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., there’s an autograph session set for 5:45 and on-court action will start at 7 p.m. According to USC, the on-court action will include “student-athlete introductions, a junior dunk contest, a performance by the Carolina Girls Dance Team, and a 3-point shooting contest. Highlighting the festivities will be a ‘Family Feud’ matchup between members of the men’s and women’s teams. Additionally, one lucky fan will have the chance to hit a half-court shot for $10,000, before the event ends at 7:30 p.m.” Admission is free for this event, which seems to be a form of something more traditionally known as “Midnight Madness.” What started as a simple practice open to the public at Maryland in the 1970s has become known for flashy, fan-friendly events — rapper Drake made an appearance at Kentucky’s “Big Blue Madness” event in 2017, and Syracuse has brought back alums like Carmelo Anthony in the past. USC has hosted Midnight Madness events in the past but has not done so recently. Kansas will kick off its season on Sept. 28, Kentucky is set to host its event this season a week later on Oct. 12 and Duke is a week after on Oct. 19. Coach Frank Martin and the South Carolina men’s team, which officially practiced Tuesday, has an exhibition game against Oct. 26 against Augusta University at CLA. Dawn Staley’s women’s team hosts Lander in an exhibition contest on Nov. 2.
  5. Source: Couisnard ineligible to compete for Gamecocks this season SEPTEMBER 25, 2018 BY WILL PALASZCZUK LINK: SPORTSTALK Jermaine Couisnard SportsTalkSC has learned through a source that incoming South Carolina basketball player Jermaine Couisnard will not play for the Gamecocks this season due to academic eligibility issues. The source, speaking on a condition of anonymity said Couisnard was cleared to receive aid, be on scholarship and practice with the Gamecocks, but was not cleared for competition. Couisnard’s eligibility has been a hot-button issue around the Gamecocks offseason, as one of his standardized test scores was called into question by The College Board. The 6-4 shooting guard from East Chicago, Indiana went to Montverde Prep in Florida to, as he told the Chicago Tribune, improve his study habits and improve his college eligibility going into this season. A message to a spokesperson with the South Carolina Men’s Basketball team seeking comment was
  6. Four burning questions facing South Carolina basketball this season Sept. 25, 2018 THE STATE The South Carolina men’s basketball season officially begins Tuesday. It’s a practice coming 43 days before the first game, yes, but the mere thought of the session was enough to get Frank Martin’s juices flowing Monday morning. “Here. We. Go,” the USC coach tweeted at 11:13 a.m. Martin went on to list reasons for optimism surrounding the 2018-19 Gamecocks, among them the shot at a fifth consecutive winning season and the return of SEC defensive player of the year Chris Silva. “I know I’m excited,” Martin concluded. “I hope gamecock nation is 2.” The post was consistent with Martin’s outlook on this team since May when he announced at a news conference, “I’m at a good place with our roster.” The group is 15-players deep. There’s a proven commodity in Silva, a breakout candidate in Justin Minaya and a handful of promising new faces, ranging from grad transfer Tre Campbell to freshman A.J. Lawson. What’s standing in the way of these Gamecocks getting back to the NCAA Tournament? Here are four pressing questions for this upcoming month and beyond: 1. Can Campbell solidify the point guard position? Plug in Rakym Felder for Wes Myers or P.J. Dozier for Hassani Gravett and the Gamecocks make some form of the postseason last year. South Carolina finished a game above .500 in 2017-18 despite a glaring weakness at point guard. It was a credit to Martin’s coaching chops, but it also made clear the No. 1 goal of the offseason. With Felder fully dismissed and Dozier well into his professional career, the Gamecocks had to find a PG. On April 15, T.J. Moss committed to Carolina. A month later, Campbell did the same. Throw Gravett – and his 22 starts last season – into the mix and that gives Martin three legitimate options at point. Moss, though, is a freshman. Gravett, as he’s shown in the past, can be more effective off the ball. This moves the spotlight to Campbell. The former Georgetown Hoya came to South Carolina for his last year of college ball. The 6-foot, 170-pounder best fits the profile for what Martin wants. Can he capitalize on the opportunity? “That’s why I chose South Carolina, so I can run a team,” Campbell said in August, “as a point guard in the SEC, which is one of the best conferences in the country. I wanted to do that.”
  7. Chris Silva ‘needs more love nationally.’ Gamecocks star tops this preseason list Sept. 21, 2018 By the end of this upcoming basketball season, Chris Silva could rank in the top 10 all-time at South Carolina in points, rebounds, blocks, free throw attempts, free throws made and games played. He could have a second SEC Defensive Player of the Year award. He could be the overall SEC Player of the Year. But the 6-foot-9, 223-pounder — for right now, anyway — is operating under a small spotlight. At least that’s how one national writer sees it. NCAA.com’s Andy Katz, a former ESPN scribe, released his latest offseason list on Thursday evening. The title is “11 under-the-radar players to keep an eye on this season.” Silva comes in at No. 1. “Silva could be an all-SEC first-teamer and play his way toward conference player of the year if the Gamecocks can sneak up and be in contention,” Katz wrote. “He’s one of the top defensive players in the league and averaged nearly a double-double at 14.3 and 8 a game. He is well-known in South Carolina, but needs more love nationally.” Silva is followed on the list by Kenny Williams (North Carolina), Cam Johnson (North Carolina), C.J. Massinburg (Buffalo), Javon Bess (Saint Louis), Max Strus (DePaul), James Thompson IV (Eastern Michigan), Jeremiah Martin (Memphis), Jordan Chatman (Boston College), Seth Towns (Harvard) and Vasa Pusica (Northeastern). Among the 10 schools represented among the 11 players, only three play in Power 5 conferences. But of course, recent history suggests Gamecocks thrive under the radar. Sindarius Thronwell didn’t make the media’s version of the preseason All-SEC team in October 2016. He won the league’s Player of the Year honor the following March en route to guiding USC to the Final Four. Katz has been high on Silva for a while. In July, Katz listed Silva among the 32 best players returning for the 2018-19 season. A month later, he made Silva’s case to be SEC POY.
  8. Additional Game Times, Broadcast Information Announced For 2018-19 Men's Hoops Sept. 19, 2018 COLUMBIA, S.C. – Game times and broadcast details have been finalized for the upcoming 2018-19 season of South Carolina men's basketball, as the SEC released its full conference schedule details on Wednesday. Additionally, Carolina has released game times and network details for its non-conference contests. Details for the Oct. 26 exhibition matchup against Augusta University will be released soon. All of the games included in the ESPN package (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and SEC Network) will also be available through the ESPN App, which is accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider. Season ticket deposits are currently being accepted for the 2018-19 campaign. Prices remain unchanged, with full season packages starting for as low as $69 for the popular Mobile Pass season ticket. Like the past few seasons, fans can purchase lower level season tickets for $260 (Gamecock Club membership required for sections 104-106, 113-115), the Coke Family Sections are available for $600 (four tickets) and upper level tickets are available (no Gamecock Club membership required) for $90 in the baseline value sections, and $200 in other sections. University Faculty/Staff members receive a 20% discount on lower level and upper level ticket prices. Fans interested in buying season tickets for the upcoming campaign can place a deposit by visiting ItsGreatToBeAGamecock.com , or by calling the Gamecock Ticket Office at 1-800-4SC-FANS. 2018-19 South Carolina Basketball Schedule Oct. 26, Augusta University (TBA) Nov. 6, USC Upstate (SEC Network+, 7 p.m.) Nov. 9, Stony Brook (Hall of Fame Tip-Off/SEC Network+, 7 p.m.) Nov. 13, Norfolk State (Hall of Fame Tip-Off/SEC Network+, 7 p.m.) Nov. 17, vs. Providence (Mohegan Sun Arena/Hall of Fame Tip-Off/ESPN3, 2:30 p.m.) Nov. 18, vs. George Washington/Michigan (Mohegan Sun Arena/Hall of Fame Tip-Off/ESPN/2, 1:30/4 p.m.) Nov. 26, Wofford (SEC Network+, 7 p.m.) Nov. 30, Coastal Carolina (SEC Network, 7 p.m.) Dec. 5, at Wyoming (Stadium, 9 p.m.) Dec. 8, at Michigan (FS1, 12 p.m.) Dec. 19, Virginia (SEC Network, 7 p.m.) Dec. 22, Clemson (ESPN2, 2 p.m.) Dec. 31, North Greenville (SEC Network+, 2 p.m.) Sat., Jan. 5 – at Florida* (ESPN2, 7 p.m.) Tue., Jan. 8 – Mississippi State* (ESPNU, 9 p.m.) Sat., Jan. 12 – Missouri* (SEC Network, 1 p.m.) Wed., Jan. 16 – at Vanderbilt* (SEC Network, 7 p.m.) Sat., Jan. 19 – at LSU* (SEC Network, 6 p.m.) Tue., Jan. 22 – Auburn* (SEC Network, 6:30 p.m.) Jan. 26, at Oklahoma State (SEC/Big 12 Challenge/ESPN/2/U, 2 p.m.) Tue., Jan. 29 – Tennessee* (SEC Network, 6:30 p.m.) Sat., Feb. 2 – at Georgia* (SEC Network, 1 p.m.) Tue., Feb. 5 – at Kentucky* (SEC Network, 7 p.m.) Sat., Feb. 9 – Arkansas* (SEC Network, 3:30 p.m.) Wed., Feb. 13 – at Tennessee* (SEC Network, 6:30 p.m.) Sat., Feb. 16 – Texas A&M* (SEC Network, 1 p.m.) Tue., Feb. 19 – Ole Miss* (SEC Network, 7 p.m.) Sat., Feb. 23 – at Mississippi State* (SEC Network, 6 p.m.) Tue., Feb. 26 – Alabama* (ESPN/2/U, 7 p.m.) Sat., March 2 – at Missouri* (SEC Network, 3:30 p.m.) Tue., March 5 – at Texas A&M* (SEC Network, 7 p.m.) Sat., March 9 – Georgia* (SEC Network, 1 p.m.) March 13-17 – SEC Tournament (Nashville, Tenn.) home games in bold All times listed Eastern * indicates SEC contest
  9. ‘Midnight Madness’ coming to Gamecock men’s and women’s basketball Sept. 12, 2018 South Carolina men’s and women’s basketball teams will host their first ever Gamecock Tipoff event on Oct. 5, they announced Wednesday. The even at Colonial Life Arena will be free and open to fans and will feature team meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, contests with prizes and the opportunity to “watch the Gamecocks showcase their skills on the court,” according to an athletic department press release. The exact time of the event was not announced, but it will take place in early October, which is typically associated with “Midnight Madness” events. What started as a simple practice open to the public at Maryland in the 1970s has become known for flashy, fan-friendly events — rapper Drake made an appearance at Kentucky’s “Big Blue Madness” event in 2017, and Syracuse has brought back alums like Carmelo Anthony in the past. USC has hosted Midnight Madness events in the past but has not done so recently. Kansas will kick off its season on Sept. 28, Kentucky is set to host its event this season a week later on Oct. 12 and Duke is a week after on Oct. 19.
  10. South Carolina men’s basketball releases SEC schedule. Here are five observations August 24, 2018 he South Carolina men’s basketball team has known its SEC opponents for a while, but now the Gamecocks know when they’ll take on their league rivals this season. The SEC released its schedule Friday, finalizing what’s ahead for USC in 2018-19. The completed slate is below: Oct. 26 – Augusta University (exhibition) Nov. 6 – USC Upstate Nov. 9 – Stony Brook (Hall of Fame Tip-Off) Nov. 13 – Norfolk State (Hall of Fame Tip-Off) Nov. 17 – vs. Providence ( Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Connecticut) Nov. 18 –vs. Michigan OR George Washington ( Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Connecticut) Nov. 26 – Wofford Nov. 30 – Coastal Carolina Dec. 5 – at Wyoming Dec. 8 – at Michigan Dec. 19 – Virginia Dec. 22 – Clemson Dec. 31 – North Greenville Jan. 5 – at Florida* Jan. 8 – Mississippi State* Jan. 12 – Missouri* Jan. 16 – at Vanderbilt* Jan. 19 – at LSU* Jan. 22 – Auburn* Jan. 26 – at Oklahoma State Jan. 29 – Tennessee* Feb. 2 – at Georgia* Feb. 5 – at Kentucky* Feb. 9 – Arkansas* Feb. 13 – at Tennessee* Feb. 16 – Texas A&M* Feb. 19 – Ole Miss* Feb. 23 – at Mississippi State* Feb. 26 – Alabama* March 2 – at Missouri* March 5 – at Texas A&M* March 9 – Georgia* *SEC game Five observations: -Should the Gamecocks take on Michigan on Nov. 18, that’ll give them 16 games against teams that appeared in last season’s NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines were national runners-up last season and will again be a top contender in the Big Ten. Previous Frank Martin-coached USC teams never faced more than seven opponents in the regular season that appeared in the Big Dance the year before. -South Carolina opens SEC play with a road game for the sixth time in Martin’s seven seasons. The Gamecocks are 2-3 in these games, including last year’s 74-69 loss at Ole Miss. -USC is closing the regular season at home for the first time since 2004-05. Yes, Chris Silva’s Senior Day on March 9 against Georgia will be the first time the Gamecocks are at Colonial Life Arena the game before the SEC Tournament since Carlos Powell’s Senior Day 14 years earlier. -The Gamecocks play back-to-back home games just twice in SEC play -- hosting Mississippi State and Missouri Jan. 8-12; hosting Texas A&M and Ole Miss Feb. 16-19. They had this sequence three times last season, including Jan. 16-20 when Kentucky and Tennessee drew a combined 34,210 spectators to CLA. This marks the first time Carolina hasn’t had three sets of consecutive home SEC games since 2014-15. -The SEC, coming off a year in which it sent a record number of teams to the NCAA Tournament, will again be loaded this season. So, really, any stretch of this schedule is challenging, but circle Jan. 19-29 on your calendar. A trip to Tremont Waters and LSU is followed by a home date against reigning league champion Auburn. After that, it’s the Big 12 Challenge at Oklahoma State and a home game against defending SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams and Tennessee. Those four teams went a combined 91-47 last season.
  11. Gamecocks get their jersey numbers. Wait, a freshman is rocking double zero? August 23, 2018 A season after Sindarius Thornwell ended his legendary South Carolina career with a Final Four run, the Gamecocks already had a new No. 0 on their roster. David Beatty, a freshman in 2017-18 who has since transferred, had a special reason behind choosing the unique digit. He said he was a “zero in high school because no one believed in me and I was on my own.” He wanted to represent that mindest in college with his jersey number. Beatty is now at La Salle, allowing someone else the opportunity to look like Thornwell. It appears A.J. Lawson nearly did it. USC released its 208-19 roster Thursday, showing 15 players, including eight newcomers. Lawson, a highly touted freshman from Canada, will be No. 00 in your programs. Per Frank Martin’s policy, freshmen aren’t made available to the media until their first semester, so we might not know if Lawson flirted with No. 0 until January. The listed 6-foot-6, 165-pound guard wore No. 1 in high school. AJ Lawson 247Sports T.J. Moss, a rookie point guard from Memphis, will be No. 1 for the Gamecocks this season. South Carolina 2018-19 roster (Newcomers in bold) No. 00 A.J. Lawson 6-5, 165
  12. Andy Katz: South Carolina’s Chris Silva could be SEC Player of the Year if ... August 22, 2018 As voted by the league’s coaches, eight players made first-team All-SEC last season in men’s basketball. Only two of them are back for 2018-19 — Tennessee’s Grant Williams and South Carolina’s Chris Silva. Silva tested the NBA waters, but chose to return to USC for his senior year. What’s to follow could be historic. Silva in 2017-18 became the second Gamecock in program history to be named the league’s defensive player of the year. No Gamecock has ever left the program with an SEC DPOY and an overall player of the year. Andy Katz thinks the latter can happen this upcoming season — should a few things develop. The former ESPN writer who now serves as the lead hoops scribe on NCAA.com addressed the topic on Wednesday as one of his 14 storylines surrounding the SEC. “Could South Carolina’s Chris Silva be the SEC player of the year?” Katz asked. “There’s a chance. If the Gamecocks can get the scoring they need on the perimeter and solid point guard play, then Silva could be free to put up monster numbers. Silva has seen his numbers climb each of his three seasons. He has done what most players do under Frank Martin — continued to improve. His rebounding numbers got better each of his first three seasons. He knows how to handle the rigors of the SEC. If the Gamecocks can compete for an NCAA tournament berth, then Silva will be the reason and in the mix for the player of the year honor.” Katz also released his preseason SEC poll, slotting USC ninth as a team “on the bubble” for the NCAA Tournament. This differs slightly from Jon Rothstein’s preseason poll that has the Gamecocks 10th in the league. Silva has a chance to lead the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding two consecutive seasons. That hasn’t happened in Columbia since Carlos Powell did from 2003-05. Silva’s seventh in school history in career blocks and free throw attempts, and fifth in free throws made. He’ll easily crack the top 10 in career rebounds and games played. He’s 482 points away from cracking the top 10 in scoring. As Katz alluded to, it’ll likely be the pieces around Silva that will define his and USC’s 2018-19 campaign. Top candidates to provide perimeter scoring are sophomore Justin Minaya and freshmen A.J. Lawson and Jermaine Couisnard. Tre Campbell, a graduate transfer from Georgetown, is the leader for point guard duties.
  13. ‘He can really shoot it.’ USC’s ‘breakout candidate’ impresses former NBA coach August 20, 2018 THE STATE In the Frank Martin era, only Sindarius Thornwell has logged more minutes as a South Carolina freshman than Justin Minaya. Minaya started 30 of the 32 games he played in last season. Only four Gamecocks scored more points than him. Only two collected more rebounds. Only one hit more 3s. “You guys heard me say this with P.J. Dozier,” Martin said in June. “When his freshman year ended, it was like someone took this big sack of bricks off his shoulders. Justin’s kind of the same way.” It was an active winter for the player CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein has labeled as one of the SEC’s “breakout candidates” for 2018-19. Minaya, who averaged 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds as a rookie, proved there’s star potential. He recently continued on his path with a visit to Italy as part of the USA East Coast program. Minaya was on a national team of select college players who competed against professionals from Italy, Holland, Germany and the Netherlands. It went 2-2, wrapping play with a 69-67 win over Holland on Aug. 7. Minaya scored 11 points in a team-high 20 minutes in the finale. “He played very well for us,” coach Jim Todd said. Todd has been an assistant coach for six different NBA teams since 1996, last appearing on the New Knicks’ sideline from 2012-14. He was the head coach for USA East Coast, a title Hall of Famer Larry Brown held during a three-day training camp session in New York City. “We had about three to four practices at Columbia (University) and Coach Brown was good enough to be able to run those,” Todd said. “Unfortunately, he couldn’t make the trip and he asked me to take them. “So now Justin’s got another coach he’s got to deal with. I tried to make an extension of Coach Brown the best I could.” Taking from a small sample size, Todd came away with four main impressions about Minaya’s game. “One, he shoots the ball well,” Todd said. “Two, he can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. Three, he’s willing to learn and obviously he’s coachable. Four, from the little I saw, he’s an excellent teammate.”
  14. His top-rated teammate won’t join him at USC. His plan: show why ‘I should be a 5-star’ August 16, 2018 Trae Hannibal will begin his senior year at Hartsville High School on Monday. This will officially end a summer he spent with Mike Izzo, Bob Huggins, Tony Bennett, Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Barnes, Frank Martin and Brad Brownell. “It was fun playing in front of basically every coach in America,” Hannibal said. “It was really fun.” Hannibal, who committed to South Carolina in early June, wasn’t as much the attraction as Josiah James, his AAU teammate and holder of 40-plus scholarship offers. The duo, representing the Charleston-based TMP organization, joined up in late spring and created a bond both on and off the floor. They were two different point guards – one (James) 6-foot-6; the other 6-2 – who often found themselves on the same page. “If Josiah’s not the point, we throw the ball ahead to Trae and use him as a point guard,” TMP coach Antoine Saunders said in July, “or vice versa. We run with whoever. “The game’s a lot easier when you have two top-flight guards like that.” The thought of such chemistry carrying on at the college level stopped Wednesday evening when news broke of James trimming his list to four schools and not including USC. The five-star prospect is moving forward with Clemson, Duke, Michigan State and Tennessee as his options. Hannibal said he didn’t learn of the list until late Wednesday when his father brought it to his attention. “I was like ‘Wow,’” Hannibal told The State on Thursday. “But at the end of the day, I still have respect for him. That’s my brother that I played with in AAU. I still got love and support for him wherever he goes.” The top five players in SC’s 2019 class, according to Big Shots rankings, have either made their college choice, or have made cuts. Gray Collegiate’s Juwan Gary, No. 2 behind James, has pledged to Alabama. Lower Richland’s Christian Brown, No. 3, has scheduled visits to Clemson and LSU, while Georgia and UNLV remain in the mix. Ride View’s Malcolm Wilson, No. 5, is down to Clemson, Georgetown and Rice. Hannibal, given a three-star rating by Rivals, is ranked fourth. It appears he’ll be the lone member of the group to wear garnet and black in 2019-20. THE STATE
  15. Martin vs. Martin, ACC flavor and other takeaways from USC’s schedule reveal August 15, 2018 THE STATE On June 7, shortly after the SEC announced each team’s league opponents for the upcoming season and 28 of South Carolina’s matchups were known, The State ran the headline, “Why USC’s 2018-19 basketball schedule is the toughest in the Frank Martin era.” Two months later, when USC published the final details to its non-conference slate, Martin pretty much agreed with our analysis. “It is probably the most challenging non-conference schedule that we have put together in my time at South Carolina,” the seventh-year coach said in a statement. “This will prepare us like no other year for conference play.” Under Martin, the Gamecocks have done everything from sweep the non-conference portion of the schedule (see a 13-0 mark in 2015-16) to barely win more than they’ve lost (see the 7-6 result in 2013-14). USC, since 2012, has averaged a 10-3 record outside of SEC competition. But, as Martin alluded to, the Gamecocks are on the brink of their most difficult stretch of non-SEC games in some time. How will they fare? A deeper dive into the slate: 1. A Martin vs. Martin opener South Carolina playing USC Upstate isn’t totally out of the ordinary. When the Gamecocks and Spartans meet on Nov. 6 in Colonial Life Arena, it will mark the fifth all-time matchup. Upstate is one of four Palmetto State opponents for Carolina this season. But when Frank Martin looks over the scouting report for this one, he’ll see a familiar name. Brandon Martin is a 6-foot-6, 210-pound freshman forward who averaged a double-double and totaled over 500 rebounds during an all-state career at Cardinal Newman. He spent this past year at St. Thomas More School in Connecticut. He’s also Frank’s oldest child. Martin has been a college head coach for 374 games. He’s never had to face his son. This game will also mark the Upstate coaching debut for Dave Dickerson, a candidate for Carolina assistant openings in the past. The Spartans went 8-25 last season. 2. ACC flavor It’s been nearly five decades since South Carolina last called the Atlantic Coast Conference home. When the Gamecocks take on Virginia and Clemson in consecutive games in December, it’ll mark the first time they’ve faced back-to-back ACC foes since the 1996-97 season when they lost to North Carolina on Dec. 7 and Clemson on Dec. 17. UVa was the No. 1 overall seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament -- before becoming the first regional No. 1 seed to fall to a No. 16 in the Big Dance’s first round. The 2018-19 Cavaliers are No. 7 in the latest CBS rankings. USC last beat a top 10 team in the non-conference on Jan. 3, 2015, when it upset No. 9 Iowa State in New York. Clemson, which returns stalwarts Marcquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell and is coming off a Sweet 16 appearance, is No. 24 on CBS. The Tigers have taken two of their last three games at CLA. 3. Two shots at the defending national runners-up? Fun fact: The last time a reigning national runner-up appeared on USC’s non-conference schedule came during the 1976-77 season against, yes, Michigan. USC, of course, wasn’t in a league at the time, but there’s still a tiny connection to what the Gamecocks will face this winter. The 2018-19 Wolverines, which fell to Villanova in last year’s title game, lost their best player in Moe Wagner, but bring back former Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews. USC is guaranteed to see them Dec. 8 in Ann Arbor and could see them Nov. 18 in Connecticut as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament. The Dec. 8 game is followed by home clashes with UVa and Clemson. The Wolverines, Cavaliers and Tigers combined to go 89-21 last season. 4. No true road games until December Four 2018 NCAA Tournament participants are in USC’s way, sure, but at least the Gamecocks only have to face one of of them (Michigan) in a true road game. After home dates with Upstate, Stony Brook and Norfolk State to open the year, South Carolina will play neutral site games against Providence and Michigan or George Washington in Connecticut. It won’t be a true road opponent until Dec. 5 at Wyoming. The Gamecocks began last season at Wofford and played Nov. 27 at Florida International. Martin’s USC teams are 39-7 in home non-conference games, 8-6 away and 11-6 in neutral site games. The 2018-19 Gamecocks will leave CLA for five games in the non-conference, including a trip to Oklahoma State on Jan. 26 for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. 5. An in-state tradition continues South Carolina’s second-to-last non-conference game is scheduled for New Year’s Eve against North Greenville. This will mark the fifth straight season in which USC is taking on an in-state Division II opponent. The Gamecocks beat Coker (2014), Francis Marion (2015), Lander (2016) and Limestone (2017) by a combined 105 points. Why does Martin keep this tradition going? “Playing all these coaches in this state, it’s phenomenal,” Martin said last December. “It allows me to get to know them. It allows me to see their teams in person. “It keeps the money in the state, which to me is huge. These smaller schools, the reason they’re small is because their budgets are small. So giving them the opportunity to collect that kind of money is something they’re not afforded very often.” --------------------------------------------------------- South Carolina 2018-19 basketball schedule Oct. 26 – Augusta University (exhibition) Nov. 6 – USC Upstate Nov. 9 – Stony Brook (Hall of Fame Tip-Off) Nov. 13 – Norfolk State (Hall of Fame Tip-Off) Nov. 17 – vs. Providence ( Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Connecticut) Nov. 18 –vs. Michigan OR George Washington ( Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Connecticut) Nov. 26 – Wofford Nov. 30 – Coastal Carolina Dec. 5 – at Wyoming Dec. 8 – at Michigan Dec. 19 – Virginia Dec. 22 – Clemson Dec. 31 – North Greenville Jan. 26 – at Oklahoma State TBA – Georgia TBA – Mississippi State TBA – Tennessee TBA – Missouri TBA – Texas A&M TBA – Alabama TBA – Arkansas TBA – Auburn TBA – Ole Miss TBA – at Georgia TBA – at Mississippi State TBA – at Tennessee TBA – at Missouri TBA – at Texas A&M TBA – at Florida TBA – at Kentucky TBA – at LSU TBA – at Vanderbilt
  16. Early SEC basketball predictions are out. Here’s where the Gamecocks stand August 07, 2018 There’s few people in the sports media world as giddy about college basketball as Jon Rothstein. The CBS Sports contributor, on his Twitter account, begins a countdown to the season’s first official practice day not long after the previous season ends. On Tuesday morning, he told his 119,000-plus followers we’re down to 49 days. Naturally such a hoops junkie comes out with preseason predictions in early August. Rothstein on Monday took a look at the SEC, a league he said is ready to take a “major, major jump” in 2018-19. “There was quality NCAA Tournament representation from the SEC in 2018,” Rothstein said on his podcast, “but in 2019, you have several teams in this league that have the chops and the requisites to play into the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend and beyond.” The SEC sent a league-record eight teams to the Big Dance last season, but only two -- Kentucky and Texas A&M -- advanced to the Sweet 16. South Carolina went 7-11 in the league, finishing 11th in the final standings. The Gamecocks return five players who started at least 17 games last season and add what Coach Frank Martin feels could be his best recruiting class in his seven years at USC. Where will they finish in the SEC? Slightly highly than last year, Rothstein said. He’s got the Gamecocks 10th, just above Ole Miss and right behind Missouri. Chris Silva, the reigning co-defensive player of the year in the SEC, has a chance to lead the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding two consecutive seasons. That hasn’t happened in Columbia since Carlos Powell from 2003-05. The senior, however, did not make Rothstein’s preseason All-SEC first team. Five SEC programs have what Rothstein labels as potential “impact freshmen” AND “under-the-radar freshmen,” South Carolina included. A.J. Lawson, the four-star recruit from Canada, fits the impact rookie profile. Five SEC programs have what Rothstein labels as potential “impact freshmen” AND “under-the-radar freshmen,” South Carolina included. A.J. Lawson, the four-star recruit from Canada, fits the impact rookie profile. T.J. Moss, the point guard from Memphis who impressed at last month’s S.C. Pro-Am , is under the radar. Tre Campbell, the likely starting point guard, is among 10 impact SEC transfers, said Rothstein. Silva and Maik Kotsar (33 starts last season) are the most experienced returning Gamecocks. Rising sophomore Justin Minaya (30 starts) might be the most talented. The 6-foot-5 wing is among 10 breakout candidates from the SEC, according to Rothstein.
  17. Gamecock point guard concerns? USC’s top option says he’s ’100 percent’ after big week August 01, 2018 Tre Campbell scored 23 points, made 50 percent of his field goal attempts, handed out three assists and grabbed seven rebounds in his South Carolina Pro-Am debut on July 22. More importantly, though, he logged more than 30 minutes. “I didn’t really come out of the game,” Campbell said. Campbell might celebrate minutes over buckets for a little while as he approaches the 2018-19 basketball season as South Carolina’s top point guard candidate. The grad transfer from Georgetown suffered a major knee injury -- torn meniscus and patellar tendon -- as the result of a bus accident in February 2017. Rehab’s gone smoothly, but his participation in last week’s Pro-Am allowed Campbell to take a sigh of relief. “The first game in the Pro-Am,” Campbell said, “that was my first time really going up and down in a full game in a whole year -- because I didn’t play last year -- and I felt good. ... My knee is 100 percent.” Campbell was introduced to media members Wednesday alongside Jair Bolden at Carolina Coliseum. Bolden, a traditional transfer from George Washington who will sit out the upcoming season, was part of an undefeated team at the Pro-Am that was crowned champions Sunday. Bolden never faced Campbell, but he was around Heathwood Hall enough to note the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder doesn’t seem slowed by much of anything from his past. Campbell averaged 22.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists over his three games in the Pro-Am. “A lot of guys who come back from a serious injury like that aren’t the same,” Bolden said. “And he seems better, if not the same. He’s a heck of a player, injury or no injury. I’m pretty sure he’s 100 percent now, just the way he runs and how athletic he is.” Consistency at the PG position is what the Gamecocks lacked last season. Hassani Gravett and Wes Myers tried, but Coach Frank Martin’s best option, Rakym Felder, was suspended. Felder was dismissed from the program on April 23. Campbell announced plans to join the program May 8. “That’s why I chose South Carolina, so I can run a team,” Campbell said, “as a point guard in the SEC, which is one of the best conferences in the country. I wanted to do that.” Campbell, playing in Georgetown’s structured Princeton-style offense under former coach John Thompson III, never averaged more than 4.1 points in a season for the Hoyas. Campbell said Martin used Frank Booker’s numbers from last season as a selling point on the recruiting trail. Booker, at 12.7 ppg, was second on USC in scoring in 2017-18. During his three previous years at Oklahoma and Florida Atlantic, Booker never topped 6 a game. “He showed me guys that came here and how he helped with the points, rebounds, everything,” Campbell said. “And I feel like that’s something I can do.” As a point guard, Campbell describes himself as one who can “pass the ball, can shoot, play defense, do everything. I’m not just a scorer, not just a shooter, not just a facilitator. I feel like I’m an overall good point guard.” Who’s back in good health. “I was down,” Campbell said, “but now I’m ready to go.”
  18. Five things we learned about the Gamecocks from the SC Pro-Am July 30, 2018 Carey Rich sat courtside all week, watching Gamecocks from as young as A.J. Lawson to as established as Carlos Powell. No matter the age, talent was evident during the SC Pro-Am, Rich’s baby. The former South Carolina point guard and longtime contributor to the local hoops scene has been the leader of this event for seven years. It concluded Sunday with a Carolina-heavy championship before a good crowd at Heathwood Hall. “One word that comes to mind for me was consistency,” Rich said, looking back on a week that began with Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier battling each other. “From day one, we had an unbelievable crowd all three games. Players were consistent with showing up and all of the games were consistently competitive. “Right now, if there’s one word that best describes my emotion, it’s probably just the level of consistency that the entire Pro-Am showed over the last four days.” Carey Rich sat courtside all week, watching Gamecocks from as young as A.J. Lawson to as established as Carlos Powell. No matter the age, talent was evident during the SC Pro-Am, Rich’s baby. The former South Carolina point guard and longtime contributor to the local hoops scene has been the leader of this event for seven years. It concluded Sunday with a Carolina-heavy championship before a good crowd at Heathwood Hall. “One word that comes to mind for me was consistency,” Rich said, looking back on a week that began with Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier battling each other. “From day one, we had an unbelievable crowd all three games. Players were consistent with showing up and all of the games were consistently competitive. “Right now, if there’s one word that best describes my emotion, it’s probably just the level of consistency that the entire Pro-Am showed over the last four days.” Powell, the 2005 NIT MVP who also played in Venzezuela last year and narrowly beat Downey for league MVP honors, had three double-doubles in four games. 2. T.J. Moss has a scorer’s mentality What Frank Martin liked about Moss on the recruiting trail was his successful transition from scoring at Memphis East High School to distributor at Findlay Prep in Nevada. The incoming freshman point guard was back in a scoring mode at the Pro-Am. His 25 points per game led the nine active Gamecocks participating. (He also took a USC-high 60 shots.) “Moss is more of a scoring point guard, so to speak,” Rich said, “nice size.” 3. USC should be fine with Tre Campbell at PG Moss and Campbell were on the same team at the Pro-Am. They combined for 47.3 points per game. USC went through a season-long battle at finding point guard consistency last season. The Gamecocks have addressed the position with the Moss and Campbell additions. Campbell, a graduate transfer from Georgetown, appears poised to take on a starting role. “He’s already run a major college offense before,” Rich said, “you can tell. He’s driven, he’s motivated. “He didn’t play last year because of injury. Came out of high school highly touted, so he’s motivated to finish his college career in a fashionable manner.” 4. Lawson ‘jumps out at you’ It’s important to note A.J. Lawson was ranked among the class of 2019’s 40 best player before he reclassified late in the spring. The Candaian showed his potential at the Pro-Am by averaging 17.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and shooting over 51 percent from the floor. “That’s the one guy that jumps out at you because his overall skill set is multi-dimensional,” Rich said. “He’ll be able to play every position on the perimeter -- 1, 2 and 3. He does it in a very comfortable manner, he does it with a flair. “He’s the one guy I know will certainly have every opportunity to come in and impact this team right away.” 5. A healthier Hassani Gravett on tap for 2018-19 Beyond the new guys, three veteran Gamecocks participated. Kotsar won a title, Jason Cudd teammed with Dozier and Hassani Gravett showed off his skills at full strength. Gravett said Wednesday that the ankle injury that sidelined him for three games in the middle of last season lingered as the year continued. “My ankle had issues and I wasn’t able to display any athleticism,” Gravett said. “During this offseason, I’ve just been trying to get back in the groove of making athletic plays, whether it’s crashing the boards or showing that ability when I do get in the lane.” Gravett averaged 16.7 points and four assists at the Pro-Am. A 22-game starter a year ago, Gravett’s role for 2018-19 will be interesting to watch. Can he start again? Or, with Campbell and Moss in the fold, is Gravett used as a top bench option who can play both guard spots? --------------------------- How the Gamecocks did at the SC Pro-Am A.J. Lawson: 17.6 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, 1.3 assists per game, FG percentage of 51.2 Alanzo Frink: 13 ppg, 4 rpg, 61.1 percent Hassani Gravett: 16.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4 apg, 41.3 percent Keyshawn Bryant: 9.3 ppg, 6 rpg, 1 apg, 40.5 percent T.J. Moss: 25 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 45 percent Tre Campbell: 22.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 42.1 percent Jason Cudd: 4.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 60 percent Maik Kotsar: 12 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3 apg, 62 percent Jair Bolden: 17.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 51.2 percent THE STATE
  19. How are the new Gamecocks faring at the SC Pro-Am? One dropped nearly 40 points July 26, 2018 Hassani Gravett, not scheduled to play until the final game Wednesday, was late to the T.J. Moss show at Heathwood Hall. “I came in late second half,” Gravett said, “but he was going to work. I was proud of the young fella.” The South Carolina Pro-Am basketball tournament featured three more games Wednesday, allowing more eyes to see the newest Gamecocks in action. Moss, a freshman point guard who struggled in Sunday’s opener (four points on 2 of 10 shooting), came back hot with a second opportunity. The lankly 6-foot-4, 180-pounder poured in 37 points Wednesday in his team’s 105-98 loss. He hit eight of 11 3s, the final banking home from the right wing with 2:41 remaining. Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-mens-basketball/article215550895.html#storylink=chttps://twitter.com/CoachE1724/status/10222773051237253https://twitter.com/CoachE1724/status/102227730512372531212py Moss is a Memphis native who played this past season at national powerhouse Findlay Prep in Nevada. He’s expected to battle for PG minutes against Gravett, a rising senior, and Tre Campbell, a grad transfer from Georgetown. “I have a great impression of them,” Gravett said. “I think they’re going to do good things here and help us a lot. I’ve spent the majority of time off the court with those two guys. They’re real good guys and I know they’re going to come be good in the locker room and on the court.” The SC Pro-Am, with games Saturday and a championship round Sunday, will wrap this weekend. A look at the numbers so far for the new Carolina players: (Jermaine Couisnard is the lone incomer not participating this week). Freshman T.J. Moss: 20.5 points per game, 5 rebounds per game, 4.5 assists per game Freshman A.J. Lawson: 14 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 apg Freshman Keyshawn Bryant: 9.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 0.5 apg Freshman Alanzo Frink: Scored two points and had five rebounds Sunday; didn’t play Wednesday Grad transfer Tre Campbell: 22.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4 apg Transfer Jair Bolden: 11.5 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg SC Pro-Am Schedule SUNDAY, JULY 22 Jets 103, Bernie’s Chicken 101 (3OT) Bakari Sellers 119, Knights Concrete 97 Leevy’s 99, PASCO 96 WEDNESDAY, JULY 25 Jets 121, PASCO 119 (20T) Bernie’s Chicken 105, Knights Concrete 98 Bakari Sellers All-Stars 113, Leevy’s 104 SATURDAY, JULY 28 2:30 PM Jets vs. Bakari Sellers All-Stars 3:45 PM Leevy’s vs. Bernie’s Chicken 5:00 PM PASCO vs. Knights Concrete SUNDAY, JULY 29 (CHAMPIONSHIP) 2:30 PM 5TH PLACE vs 6TH PLACE 3:45 PM 4TH PLACE vs. 3RD PLACE 5:00 PM 2ND PLACE vs. 1ST PLACE Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-mens-basketball/article215550895.html#storylink=cpy Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-mens-basketball/article215550895.html#storylink=cpy Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-mens-basketball/article215550895.html#storylink=cpy Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-mens-basketball/article215550895.html#storylink=cpy
  20. Chris Silva eyes final season at USC July 23, 2018 Chris Silva on Sunday wore a shirt with “GAMECOCK BASKETBALL” printed loudly across his chest. Consider it an updated version of the Under Armour attire he’s fashioned these past four years. But it wasn’t long ago when Silva was deciding whether to expand his wardrobe to look more like Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier. That pair of former USC greats walked into Heathwood Hall rocking the gear of their current employers -- Thornwell in Los Angeles Clippers blue and red; Dozier in faded Oklahoma City Thunder navy. The South Carolina Pro-Am is a week-long display of local hoops, prominently featuring Gamecocks of old and new. Silva, originally scheduled to play, decided not to participate this year. He’s a spectator at Heathwood, monitoring his current teammates while watching a duo he’s hoping to join again one day. Silva, the 6-foot-9, 223-pound reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, announced on May 21 his return to Carolina for his senior season. Part of the decision process, he said, included conversations with Thornwell and Dozier. “They guided me through a little bit,” Silva said, “gave me a blueprint and I tried to follow and do my best.” “I just told him to evaluate everything,” Thornwell said. “Make sure the decision is for you, on you, and nobody else.” Thornwell, the 2017 SEC Player of the Year, is entering his second season with the Clippers. Dozier, who left USC after his sophomore year, is entering his second season with the Thunder’s organization. That twosome once paired with Silva to help the Gamecocks to their only Final Four appearance, the program’s crowning achievement. Silva in 2017-18 saw a role change. He went from being contributor to a team’s No. 1 option. He led USC in points, rebounds and blocks. He earned first-team All-SEC honors. The accomplishments helped confirm for Silva a thought he had entering his junior season.
  21. Gamecocks have one of basketball's best returning players, national analyst says July 07, 2018 Recent buzz surrounding the South Carolina men's basketball program has revolved around those players coming in and those players who have departed. But the Gamecocks are also returning four starters for the 2018-19 season, Chris Silva chief among them. The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year and all-league first-teamer chose to come back for his senior season after testing the NBA waters.. He's considered an SEC Player of the Year candidate, but where does the powerful 6-foot-9 forward rank nationally? Andy Katz, a longtime ESPN contributor who now covers college hoops for NCAA.com, recently revealed his list of top returning players for this upcoming season. Silva didn't land in the top 20, but was one of an additional 12 players to make honorable mention. Silva averaged a team-high 14.3 points, 8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for USC in 2017-18. He led the country in free-throw rate and finished second nationally in fouls drawn per 40 minutes. He has a chance to lead the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding two consecutive seasons. That hasn’t happened in Columbia since Carlos Powell from 2003-05. Silva is one of seven SEC players among the 32 Katz listed. That's two more than any other conference, echoing what Frank Martin said last week during a teleconference with league media members. "Our league right now is the hardest league in the country, plain and simple," said the Carolina coach, "because guys like (Arkansas' Daniel) Gafford are coming back, Chris Silva is coming back, (Kentucky) P.J. Washington coming back, (Jontay) Porter at Missouri." The SEC sent a league-record eight teams to the NCAA tournament last season.
  22. Latest commitment wraps 'definitely promising' recruiting class for Frank Martin June 29, 2018 In describing the two main pieces to his 2018 recruiting class, South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin has referenced Sindarius Thornwell (for Jermaine Couisnard) and P.J Dozier (A.J. Lawson). Both Couisnard and Lawson will soon play under the Final Four banner that Thornwell and Dozier helped bring to USC in 2017. Lofty expectations or realistic goals? Lawson’s Tuesday commitment put a bow on Martin’s seventh class since he came to Columbia from Kansas State in March 2012. The five-man group currently ranks No. 46 in the country by Rivals and No. 51 by 247Sports. The Thornwell class of ’13 – which included Duane Notice –came in at No. 24 by 247Sports. The Dozier bunch of ’15 – which included Chris Silva – came in at No. 33. Give it a year or two, Rivals national analyst Corey Evans said, and Couisnard and Lawson could make the ’18 class look underrated. “They’re the top two guys in that class, easily,” said Evans, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals. “I don’t know if I’m drinking the Jermaine Couisnard Kool-Aid here, but guys just don’t keep developing, keep developing and then they get to college and they stop getting better. There’s just something in Jermaine’s DNA. “And then you throw in Frank Martin’s coaching style with Jermaine’s blue collar mentality, it’s like a match made in heaven.” Couisnard started this class in January when the 6-foot-5 combination guard picked the Gamecocks over the likes of Louisville, Virginia Tech, Illinois and West Virginia. Lawson ended it when he signed with Carolina after visits to Tulane and Creighton. “Lawson’s the most talented of them all,” Evans said of the four-star when compared to USC’s other signees. “Raw ability-wise, he’s the most talented hands-down. Legitimately 6-foot-6 in bare feet and with a 6-foot-10 wingspan. Those measurables are huge in today’s game. “He likes to be on the ball as a distributor and play-maker. He can guard multiple positions on defense. The potential’s evident with him.” Rivals doesn’t include international prospects in its individual rankings, but Evans said the Canadian Lawson would be a “fringe top 50 player” in the ’18 class. Before he reclassified, Lawson was the No. 40 player in the ’19 class, according to 247Sports. Dozier was No. 22 in the ’15 class. Thornwell was No. 30 in the ’13 class. “Lawson physically has to get stronger,” Evans said of the listed 175-pounder, “but the talent’s going to win out. His talent’s pretty damn good.” Point guard T.J. Moss, wing Keyshawn Bryant and forward Alanzo Frink round out the ’18 group.
  23. 'He's like P.J. Dozier all over again.' Frank Martin raves about latest USC signee June 28, 2018 In South Carolina's quest to the return to the NCAA tournament, the Gamecocks have signed a version of a hero from their last Big Dance run. At least that's what Frank Martin sees in incomer A.J. Lawson. "He’s like P.J. Dozier all over again," the USC coach said Tuesday during an SEC teleconference with reporters. Lawson, a versatile four-star prospect from Canada, officially committed to Carolina on Tuesday. He's a listed 6-foot-7 wing, but his game compares to the 6-6 point guard who helped USC get to the Final Four in 2017. Dozier, now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder's organization, averaged 10.4 points and 2.4 assists over two seasons in garnet and black. The Columbia product was a McDonald's All-American coming out of Spring Valley High School. "A little different as a player, but (Lawson's) every bit of 6-6, 6-7," Martin said. "Point guard that can play off the ball. Extremely fast with the ball. Probably shoots it better than P.J. did at the same stage of his career." One of Martin's final appearances before Lawson came in mid-June at the FIBA under-18 Americas championships in Canada. Lawson averaged 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in helping the Canadians to a runner-up finish. He picked the Gamecocks over Creighton and Tulane. “A.J.’s an unbelievable kid," Martin said. "We’ve been recruiting him for a year, thinking he’s going to be a ’19 (class member). When he called and said he was going to change his mind, we jumped on him right away and we’re very, very fortunate that we were able to sign him.” Lawson is the highest rated prospect in USC's class. The group of five incoming freshmen is ranked 46th nationally by Rivals and 51st by 247Sports. The run of pledges didn't start until three-star guard Jermaine Couisnard's commitment on Jan. 27. Couisnard is 6-5 and April pledge T.J. Moss is 6-4. Throw in Lawson's length and Martin is pleased about the future of his backcourt. "Big, big long guards that all take on the defensive challenges and understand the game as point guards," Martin said. "(It) kind of gives me the nucleus of young kids that we feel pretty good about." South Carolina's 2018 recruiting class ▪ G Jermaine Cousinard (East Chicago, Indiana) ▪ G T.J. Moss (Memphis, Tennessee)
  24. South Carolina basketball has reason for optimism after roster makeover June 27, 2018 As South Carolina’s 2018-19 men’s basketball roster stood on April 23, Gamecock fans were crossing their fingers about what was to come next. Rakym Felder was let go from the program that morning, leaving USC without an experienced point guard. Meanwhile, Chris Silva and Brian Bowen, the presumed vital pieces for success, were exploring NBA opportunities. The team’s confirmed leading returning scorer at the time was Maik Kotsar – at 8 points per game. Just over two months later, the narrative has changed. Feel free to think optimistically about the Gamecocks after not only A.J. Lawson’s commitment, but what Frank Martin and his staff have accomplished in the aftermath of Felder’s dismissal. A brief timeline: May 8 – Tre Campbell, a point guard from Georgetown, commits to USC as a graduate transfer May 21 – Silva opts to return to USC for his senior season May 30 – Bowen, after learning he wouldn’t be eligible to play in college next season, turns pro June 1 – Trae Hannibal, a point guard from Hartsville, becomes first member of USC’s 2019 recruiting class June 2 – Jair Bolden, a combination guard from George Washington, commits to USC as a traditional transfer June 2 – Keyshawn Bryant, a 6-foot-7 wing from Florida, commits to USC in ’18 class June 26 – Lawson commits, finalizes USC’s ’18 class What these moves did for USC ▪ The Gamecocks got the experienced point guard they coveted. Campbell wasn’t producing at an eye-popping rate as a Hoya – see 3.7 points and 1.3 assists per game – but the next game he appears in will be his 85th on the college level. That beats the likely alternative option of T.J. Moss getting heavy PG minutes as a freshman. ▪ Silva’s return means Carolina has a chance at having the SEC Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 14.3 points and 8 rebounds a game last season, despite still adjusting to being his team’s No. 1 option. He’ll enter his senior campaign as that centerpiece from the get-go. If he applies properly the feedback he received from NBA personnel, the Gamecocks will feature one of the league’s most dominant players on a night-in, night-out basis. ▪ The wing position is solidified with the additions of Bryant and Lawson. Whether that combination makes up for the departure of Bowen is up for debate, but at least the spot was addressed. Lawson was a top 40 player in the 2019 class – Bowen was a top 20 player in the 2017 class – before he reclassified to ’18. He’s a polished player who has excelled on the international level. Bryant, an explosive athlete, is a tad raw, but is a nice option off the bench. Lawson and rising sophomore Justin Minaya can be interchangeable at both the small forward and shooting guard positions. ▪ The 2019-20 roster starts to take shape with Hannibal and Bolden. Bolden, who averaged over 11 points per game as a sophomore at GW, will likely have more of an immediate impact, but Hannibal’s pledge could have more long-term benefits as he’s the first of the state’s top players in a loaded ’19 class to commit to a college. (He’s AAU teammates with Josiah James.) What didn’t happen for USC ▪ A few hours after Hannibal’s announcement, D.J. Burns committed to Tennessee. Burns, of Rock Hill, was heavily targeted by the Gamecocks, but, like a number of past S.C. prep stars, chose to leave the state. The 6-9, 280-pound forward would have given Martin a natural replacement for Silva. Freshman Alanzo Frink, 6-6, 260, is now in that mold. ▪ Devonte Bandoo, one of the top junior college guards in the country, committed to Baylor after visiting South Carolina. ▪ Bowen never played in a game for South Carolina. When the five-month possibility became a reality, it wasn’t shocking. Bowen was deeply connected to the FBI case and the NCAA didn’t seem all that urgent in ruling on his eligibility. The departure stings, though, because of what could have been. The last McDonald’s All-American to play for the Gamecockshelped them reach the Final Four. Top starting lineup options 1. PG Campbell, SG Minaya, SF Lawson, PF Silva, C Kotsar 2. PG Campbell, SG Jermaine Couisnard, SF Minaya, PF Silva, C Kotsar 3. PG Campbell, SG Hassani Gravett, SF Minaya, PF Silva, C Kotsar Scholarship breakdown Rising seniors (3): Silva, Gravett, Campbell Juniors (2): Kotsar, Bolden* Sophomores (3): Minaya, Felipe Haase, Jason Cudd Freshmen (5): Lawson, Moss, Couisnard, Frink, Bryant *Sitting out this upcoming season due to NCAA transfer rules Note: Rising junior guard Evan Hinson's scholarship counts toward football. THE STATE
  25. With garnet in his hair, Trae Hannibal moves forward as USC's poster boy in '19 class June 20, 2018 From the tips of his hair to the number on his chest to the city he was playing in, Trae Hannibal was a slam-dunking poster boy for South Carolina on Tuesday afternoon. The recent USC basketball commitment was at Ridge View High School, a main attraction during a series of exhibition games put on by Phenom Hoops recruiting service. Hannibal is an explosive, 6-foot-2, 200-pound point guard. He pledged to the Gamecocks on June 1, giving Frank Martin a fully engaged first member of his 2019 class. Hannibal’s hair? It’s a shade of red that can be confused with garnet at first glance. “It’s a little bright,” he said, “but it’s Gamecocks though.” The number Hannibal wore for his native Hartsville High? Zero, the famous digit he plans to fashion at USC. “It was always special because I’m a big (Russell) Westbrook fan,” he said. “But wearing it after him (Sindarius Thornwell), it’s a blessing.” Hannibal traveled some 60 miles west Tuesday. The drive, taken with Hartsville coach Yusuf English and the rest of the Red Foxes, is one that his family will soon get used to. Hannibal, despite offers from schools as far away as Oklahoma State, chose to stay home. “It means a lot,” said Edward Wilson, Hannibal’s father. “There were a lot of other people talking with him and everything, but it meant a lot to be playing in-state, playing under coach Martin, who is a real great coach. It meant a lot.” Hannibal, ranked by Phenom Hoops as the state’s fifth-best player, is the first of 2019’s biggest names to make his college decision. Josiah James, No. 1 on that list, has Duke and Michigan State offers. No. 2, Juwan Gary, recently visited Alabama. No. 3, Christian Brown, is coming off a visit to UNLV. No. 4, D.J. Burns, reclassified and signed with Tennessee. “A lot of the response has been they respect Trae for it,” English said. “Not wanting to wait for more offers to make a decision, he got what he wanted. They respect him for his courage and his convictions, not allowing people to talk him out of doing stuff. They really respect what his decision is. “Especially people around the state who believe in South Carolina basketball and just the ability for kids to stay in state, they really respect the fact that he wanted to stay in-state.” James, who helped Team USA capture gold in last week’s U18 FIBA Americas Championship, teams with Hannibal on the AAU circuit. The Charleston native was quick to reach out to Hannibal on June 1. “I changed my phone number, so I knew it was going to be hectic,” Hannibal said. “Somehow (Josiah) got a hold of me real fast. He was happy for me. Whatever he does, I’ll be happy with it, too.” Hannibal’s now in a unique position where he can play part-time recruiting coordinator. His early commitment allows time for Gamecock-heavy communication with the likes of James and company. He wouldn’t reveal his plans Tuesday but noted: “I've got something in the bag. THE STATE

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