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  1. AJ Lawson has ‘NBA starter potential.’ How will long will he stay with the Gamecocks? May 24, 2019 For what it’s worth, A.J. Lawson looked like an NBA player. Literally. As he hit mid-range jumpers and threw down dunks, Lawson did it in a black LeBron James jersey shirt with No. 23 across the back. Wes Brown, who runs a scouting service for Canadian basketball players, captured Lawson in this setting last week. Brown was in an Ontario gym, shooting iPhone video of Lawson, among other top prospects from his native country. “My Twitter is followed by a lot of NBA personnel,” Brown said. “Part of it’s the social media stuff, but I send my notes to NBA teams about how he looks and everything.” Lawson, of course, is a rising South Carolina sophomore who is testing the NBA draft waters. The reigning All-SEC freshman has until May 29 (Wednesday) to remain in the draft or return to USC. He hasn’t hired an agent, wasn’t invited to the NBA combine and isn’t popping up on popular mock drafts. Sources close to the Gamecock program believe Lawson comes back to school, but as the deadline approaches a departure can’t be completely ruled out. Brown, a former Dallas Mavericks scout, said Lawson possess next-level ability right now. “Athletically, he projects as an NBA player,” Brown told The State. “He’s got incredible size and athleticism for a guard. He’s probably 6-7 plus now. I mean, we were at the workouts comparing him to other guys. He’s got to be 6-7 at least. He was always extremely athletic. His blow-by ability is elite. He can always get in the lane.” USC coach Frank Martin said last week that Lawson was headed to Los Angeles to begin workouts with NBA teams. While it’s known that former Gamecocks Chris Silva (Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves) and Hassani Gravett (Charlotte Hornets) have performed in front of NBA teams, there’s yet to be public acknowledgment of Lawson doing the same. “They’ve been keeping it kind of hush-hush,” Brown said. “I think his dad wants it that way and I really don’t know where he’s been working out because I haven’t asked.” Lawson averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists for Carolina last season. Sam Vecenie ranks Lawson No. 93 on his “big board” for the two-round, 60-pick draft on June 20. ESPN.com’s Jonathan Givony projects Lawson as a first round pick in next year’s draft. “I think he’s gonna be an NBA player whether he goes this year or next,” Brown said. “And his dad, who’s a great guy, is being really smart and calm about that. He’s not going to try and force the situation. They’re going to wait and see what’s the best opportunity. So we’ll wait and see what happens. “I think either way, he’ll end up making it because his athleticism projects, his IQ projects, his shooting ability projects, his play-making. You can build on all those things. Maybe he’s not to where he needs to be in a lot of assets. Of course he’s not there yet. But the athleticism is so far above the competition, he’s going to clearly make it. That’s his great strength and he’s obviously built on the skills tremendously. “Man, he’s got incredible potential. He’s got NBA starter potential.”
  2. ‘A hard decision.’ Frank Martin updates AJ Lawson’s NBA Draft status as deadline nears May 15, 2019 A long way from where the NBA Combine is being held this week, A.J. Lawson is taking another step in his draft process. South Carolina coach Frank Martin said Wednesday that his All-SEC guard is heading to the West Coast for workouts with NBA teams. “(Lawson) went home to Toronto,” Martin said after a speaking engagement at Shaw Air Force Base. “I think he was flying today or tomorrow to Los Angeles. He’s going to spend 10 days there and go to his workouts from LA. And then he’s going to make a decision after that.” Lawson, who made the SEC’s all-freshman team in 2018-19 after averaging 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists, has until May 29 to decide whether he wants to remain in the draft or return to the Gamecocks for a sophomore season. The 6-foot-6, 172-pounder from Canada didn’t receive one of the 66 invites to this week’s combine in Chicago, but he was asked to come to the new G League Elite Camp. Lawson declined that opportunity, citing a reach for something greater. “His vision is to be in the NBA,” Martin said, “not to be in the G League.” The two-round, 60-pick draft is June 20. In his latest “big board,” The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie lists Lawson as this draft’s No. 93 prospect. Syracuse.com’s Donna Ditota reported last week that only 11 college players have been drafted over the last five years who didn’t secure a combine invitation. ESPN.com’s Jonathan Givony projects Lawson as a first round pick in the 2020 draft. Lawson is the third Gamecock to test the draft waters with eligibility remaining. Sophomore P.J. Dawson stayed in the draft in 2017. Junior Chris Silva came back to USC in 2018. Martin said he’s in daily communication with Lawson. “It’s selfish when I say I hope he’s back because that only serves me and my team and the University of South Carolina,” Martin said. “But he loves being here, too. So it’s one of those deals where … I say this to people all the time, ‘Put yourself in a place where you gotta make tough decisions. Tough decisions are when you got two great options to choose from.’ He’s got two great options to choose from — the NBA, life-long dream and the experience that he’s actually lived at the University of South Carolina, which he loves. “So he’s got a hard decision, but he’s got to make the right one. And we’re in it with him.”
  3. Frank Martin staying at South Carolina April 12, 2019 Frank Martin’s name has been attached to a couple of openings this coaching cycle but South Carolina’s coach has put an end to the speculation — he’s staying in Columbia. After being mentioned as the possible frontrunner to land the UNLV job, the latest speculation tabbed Martin as Cincinnati’s choice to replace Mick Cronin, who left the Bearcats to take over the UCLA job. However, Martin has just nixed all that talk, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium. “South Carolina coach Frank Martin tells Stadium he will not meet with Cincinnati about opening: ‘I thought about it, because of Huggs and my time there, but I love my boss and South Carolina — so I have decided not to meet with them,'” Goodman recently tweeted out. Martin has served as South Carolina’s coach for seven seasons, leading the Gamecocks to a 129-106 record during that time. He has made only one NCAA Tournament appearance during that span (2016-17) but he led South Carolina to the Final Four that season.
  4. 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.
  5. Report: Gamecocks to face perennial Big East contender next season May 04, 2018 The South Carolina men's basketball team will reportedly participate in next season's Hall of Fame Tip Off Tournament in Connecticut. Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweeted Friday morning that the Gamecocks will play Providence at Mohegan Sun Arena. No game date has been announced, but the 2017 version of this tournament was held Nov. 18-19. Rothstein also reported George Washington-Michigan as the event's other game. The Hall of Fame Tip Off is associated with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and used to be hosted in Springfield, Massachusetts. Providence has made five straight trips to the NCAA tournament. The Big East's Friars went 21-14 last season and lost to Texas A&M in the Big Dance's first round. Other known non-conference opponents on USC's 2018-19 schedule include Clemson (home), Virginia (home), Coastal Carolina (home) and Wyoming (away). A return trip to UMass, originally scheduled for 2018, has reportedly been pushed back a season.
  6. Report: No evidence linking USC assistant to wrongdoing with sports agency March 20, 2018 Chuck Martin, currently a South Carolina assistant basketball coach and formerly of Indiana, had no communication via school email or text message with ASM sports agency employees between Jan. 1, 2016 and April 1, 2017 regarding recruit Brian Bowen. This is what IU has told the Indianapolis Star in response to a Freedom of Information request. Yahoo Sports on Feb. 23 mentioned Chuck Martin being the topic of an email from ASM rep Christian Dawkins to his boss, Andy Miller. Both Dawkins and Miller have been tied to the FBI’s probe into college basketball corruption. The U.S. Attorney's Office has charged Dawkins with three counts of wire fraud and one count of money-laundering conspiracy. The following exchange, as transcribed by Yahoo, reportedly happened in July 2016, while Chuck Martin was an assistant with the Hoosiers. He was hired at USC last June. “Chuck Martin – Trying to close the deal on Brian Bowen for Indiana,” Dawkins wrote to Miller. “I told him if we can work together and if he can push for us to get (Hoosiers) Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby two projected first rounders from IU this year we can work something out.” Chuck Martin wasn’t mentioned in the Yahoo story beyond the Dawkins to Miller email. Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin, responding to the report Feb. 26, called Chuck Martin a man of family, value and character. “Chuck’s not in the middle of this in any way, shape or form,” Frank Martin said. “I don’t care what’s reported.” Bowen, of course, is a centerpiece to the FBI probe. He signed with Louisville — and reportedly never listed Indiana as a serious recruiting contender — before transferring to South Carolina in January. Bowen still must be reinstated by the NCAA to play in games. Chuck Martin has been in college coaching since 1999, serving as Marist’s head coach from 2008-13. He was an Oklahoma City Thunder scout in 2013-14. Chuck Martin was instrumental in landing Jermaine Couisnard, a three-star guard and USC’s lone commitment in the 2018 recruiting class. THE STATE
  7. With his name being linked to UConn job, Frank Martin denies interest March 16, 2018 A surprising name is being reported in the search for the new basketball coach at Connecticut, that being South Carolina’s Frank Martin, but according to the coach himself, he is not interested. “Of course not,” Martin told via text to The Post and Courier. Martin, who has spent the last six seasons in Columbia in charge of the Gamecocks, led South Carolina to its first Final Four in program history in 2017. Martin has had success at both South Carolina and Kansas State, where he led the Wildcats to four NCAA Tournament appearances in five season before accepting the Gamecocks job. The run by South Carolina to last year’s Final Four ended with a four-point loss to Gonzaga. Other names being mentioned for the job, which became vacant when Kevin Ollie was dismissed, are Rhode Island’s Danny Hurley and former Ohio State coach Thad Matta.
  8. Starting lineup for next season and other questions facing South Carolina basketball March 1, 2018 After a year’s absence, all 2016 Final Four participants are back in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse, a No. 11 seed, faces Arizona State in a Wednesday play-in game. No. 10 Oklahoma plays Thursday afternoon against Rhode Island. Top-seeded Villanova is in action Thursday evening. No. 2 North Carolina gets 15th-seeded Lipscomb on Friday. While the Wildcats and Tar Heels never left, both the Orange and Sooners missed last season’s Big Dance. Their 2018 recovery is what South Carolina will be seeking in 2019. The Gamecocks, national semifinalists last spring, were officially left out of the NCAA tournament and NIT on Sunday, ending their year with a 17-16 record. Preseason picked to finish 11th in the SEC after losing all three starting guards, USC was a No. 11 seed in last week’s league tournament. It fell to Arkansas in the second round. Expectations should be higher for South Carolina next season. Here are five questions facing the Gamecocks entering 2018-19: Will Brian Bowen become eligible? The offseason’s No. 1 storyline centers around the Louisville transfer. Bowen, a key figure in the FBI probe into college basketball, has been practicing with Carolina since mid-January, but still must be reinstated by the NCAA to participate in games. Both coach Frank Martin and athletics director Ray Tanner have publicly expressed their trust in USC compliance director Chance Miller. All parties feel confident Bowen, a former McDonald’s All-American, will wear a Gamecock uniform one day. Per NCAA transfer rules, Bowen isn’t eligible until after the fall semester ends, but that can be appealed. The 2017 high school graduate never played for Louisville. Sports attorney Don Jackson, who spoke to The State last month after a Yahoo Sports report included allegations of Bowen’s family receiving “$7,000 in benefits” from the ASM Sports agency, floated the idea of Bowen being granted limited immunity by the NCAA. “One of the issues that could lead towards him getting immediately eligible at South Carolina would be providing adverse information against the University of Louisville,” Jackson said. “Essentially, being a cooperating witness.” Bowen, a 6-foot-7 wing, could also declare for this year’s NBA draft. That deadline is April 22. Martin, though, has said Bowen has intentions to play for South Carolina. How will Rakym Felder’s return impact the Gamecocks? Plug Felder into the 2017-18 USC team and how many wins do the Gamecocks have? 20? Are they preparing for the NCAA tournament right now? Martin longed for better point guard play all season. It was clearly the issue that frustrated the coach most. Felder, the natural replacement for the departed P.J. Dozier, wasn’t re-enrolled at USC until January. Legal troubles took away his true sophomore season – and perhaps took two or three victories away from the Gamecocks. Barring any mishaps, Felder should be back in games next season. The 5-10, 210-pound New Yorker averaged 5.6 points, 1.5 reboundsand 1.3 assists in 14.6 minutes per contest as a freshman. He scored in double figures nine times, including a 15-point effort against Duke in the NCAA tournament’s second round. How can Carolina improve its shooting? Martin said in October the 2017-18 USC bunch was the best shooting team he’s had in his 11 years as head coach. He’s stood by that statement – despite the Gamecocks finishing with an SEC-worst 39.8 field goal percentage – because 10 different players made multiple 3-pointers. The shooting talent is there. It’s the consistency that needs improvement. Martin said a big reason for the FG woes was due to USC’s poor passing traits. A natural point guard in Felder should help that issue. Another year for Hassani Gravett in that position could help, too. But Carolina is losing Frank Booker, who finished with 85 3s, the third-most ever by a Gamecock in a single season. He was easily the USC player opposing defenses had to account for on the perimeter. Who fills that void? Rising sophomore Justin Minaya is a candidate. The 6-5 wing shot 36 percent from 3 as a rookie. He was 6 of 8 from beyond the arc in the SEC tournament. What’s next for Chris Silva? Silva will one day get his NBA shot, but there’s no indication that it’s going to come this year. The first-team All-SEC player is likely to be back for his senior season with the Gamecocks. The 6-9 forward got his trial run as USC’s leader as a junior. He’ll be fully in that spotlight in 2018-19. Player leadership is big for Martin. He noted Carolina’s weakness in that area this past winter. Silva will be held accountable to get better in that role next season. Being a good captain also means being on the floor with your teammates. Though Silva led the Gamecocks in points, reboundsand blocks this past season, he was only fifth on the team in minutes. He committed at least four fouls in 18 of USC’s 33 games. Who will be USC’s starters? Rotation? If Bowen and Felder are on the active roster, Martin likely rolls with the following five: G Felder G Bowen F Minaya F Silva F Maik Kotsar This brings Gravett, Felipe Haase, Evan Hinson and David Beatty off the bench. Incoming freshman guard Jermaine Couisnard will also compete for minutes. The SEC will still be strong next season, but won’t be as deep. Four of the eight first-team All-SEC selections are seniors. Another is Kevin Knox, the likely NBA-bound Kentucky freshman. South Carolina should be back in the postseason. THE STATE
  9. NCAA expert on USC predicament: Existence of smoke doesn’t mean there’s an inferno February 24, 2018 South Carolina’s last chance this season to play under the 2017 Final Four banner that hangs at Colonial Life Arena comes Wednesday night against LSU. Of course, returning USC players will have a similar opportunity in November when the Gamecocks begin the 2018-19 campaign. At least that’s how one prominent sports attorney sees the immediate future for Frank Martin’s program. Don Jackson heads The Sports Group, a law firm based in Montgomery, Alabama. A former pitcher at Alabama State University, Jackson has a long history of representing college players – including Mississippi State basketball players Mario Austin and Renardo Sidney – and coaches – including Tennessee’s Donnie Tyndall and Binghampton’s Kevin Broadus – in NCAA-related matters He, too, read Friday’s Yahoo Sports report that listed former USC player P.J. Dozier and current Gamecock Brian Bowen among those who allegedly received financial benefits from the ASM Sports agency. According to the report, Dozier, a star guard who helped Carolina’s run to the national semifinals, “received at least $6,115 while in school.” If true, such news could lead to serious NCAA violations against USC, including vacating wins and banner removal. Jackson, however, is skeptical. “I disagree with that,” Jackson said when presented with the notion that the banner could disappear from the arena. “First of all, any financial transaction between someone in sports – someone in basketball, agent, former agent, financial planner or the president of the local bank – every financial transaction with a family member of a student-athlete, it’s sexy-looking and it attracts attention to imply that that’s an NCAA violation. It’s not.” The element of unknown is key in this situation, Jackson said. The Yahoo Sports report has an attached document of an expense report filed by ASM’s Christian Dawkins. “The thing that would have to be established first is if there was actually a transfer of money,” Jackson said. “Simply having a ledger that said I gave you $6,500 means nothing. That doesn’t mean that I gave you $6,500. That simply means that I wrote something down and said that I gave you $6,500. “So there’s a lot more that’s going to have to be established in order for us to be at a point where we’re talking about a declaration of ineligibility for these student-athletes.” Attempts by The State newspaper to reach Perry Dozier, P.J.’s father, were not successful. Dozier, averaging 13.9 points per game, was USC’s second-leading scorer last season. He declared early for the NBA draft and was eventually signed by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Primarily a G League player, Dozier debuted for the Thunder on Feb. 8. “So, was it really an inducement to try to get (Dozier) to sign?” Jackson said of ASM. “For all know, the guy (Dawkins) might have loaned players $7,500 in exchange for getting $10,000 back. We don’t know. And unfortunately that article threw all these things out there to allow people to draw all of these wild conclusions that may not be true. And that’s the troubling part about it.” The Yahoo report featured more than 20 college basketball programs, including Louisville. The Cardinals signed Bowen, a former McDonald’s All-American, last June. He spent the fall semester at U of L, but was ruled ineligible to play in wake of the FBI probe that led to coach Rick Pitino’s ouster. Bowen came to South Carolina last month and is redshirting this season while the school tries for his reinstatement. Friday’s report mentioned Bowen’s family receiving “at least $7,000 in benefits.” This, perhaps, further muddies the waters on Bowen ever wearing a USC uniform. “The FBI said that he was cleared, they merely cleared him from a criminal standpoint,” Jackson said, “simply from that fact that there were no criminal issues relating to him. That doesn’t mean that there may still not be NCAA violations. THE STATE
  10. SEC power poll: Gamecocks climb the rankings January 15, 2018 SEC power poll through Saturday’s games: 1. Auburn (16-1, 4-0 SEC) Previous ranking: 2 Last week: 2-0 (Beat Ole Miss at home, won at Mississippi State) | This week: Alabama (away), Georgia (home) On a week when the NCAA ruled Austin Wiley won’t be playing for the Tigers this season, Auburn just kept on rolling. 2. Kentucky (14-3, 4-1) Previous ranking: 3 Last week: 2-0 (Beat Texas A&M at home, won at Vanderbilt) | This week: South Carolina (away), Florida (home) The youngest team in the league is 2-1 in SEC road games this season. Colonial Life Arena is the next stop for John Calipari’s kids. 3. Florida (12-5, 4-1) Previous ranking: 1 Last week: 1-1 (Beat Mississippi State at home, lost at Ole Miss) | This week: Arkansas (home), Kentucky (away) Florida lost in Oxford for the first time since 2015, more proof on the SEC’s depth this season. 4. Tennessee (12-4, 3-2) Previous ranking: 4 Last week: 2-0 (Won at Vanderbilt, beat Texas A&M at home) | This week: Missouri (away), South Carolina (away) After an 0-2 start, the Volunteers have won three straight in league play. Crucial road trips looming this week. 5. Missouri (12-5, 2-2) Previous ranking: 5 Last week: 1-1 (Beat Georgia at home, lost at Arkansas) | This week: Tennessee (home), Texas A&M (away) Mizzou’s two losses in league play have come by a combined four points. 6. LSU (11-5, 2-2) Previous ranking: 10 Last week: 1-1 (Won at Arkansas, lost to Alabama at home) | This week: Georgia (home), Vanderbilt (away) LSU already has more wins this season than it had all of last season. Nice debut for first-year coach Will Wade. 7. Alabama (11-6, 3-2) Previous ranking: 12 Last week: 2-0 (Beat South Carolina at home, won at LSU ) | This week: Auburn (home), Mississippi State (home) Proving it’s not a one-man show, the Crimson Tide rolled the Gamecocks with star freshman Collin Sexton being held to five points. 8. Ole Miss (10-7, 3-2) Previous ranking: 11 Last week: 1-1 (Lost at Auburn, beat Florida at home) | This week: Texas A&M (away), Arkansas (away) Deandre Burnett missed the Auburn game with the flu, but came back to torch the Gators for 20 points and six assists. 9. Georgia (11-5, 2-3) Previous ranking: 7 Last week: 0-2 (Lost at Missouri, home to South Carolina) | This week: LSU (away), Auburn (away) Hurts to lose a home game when the opponent fails to shoot above 28 percent from the floor. 10. Arkansas (12-5, 2-3) Previous ranking: 9 Last week: 1-1 (Lost at home to LSU, beat Missouri at home) | This week: Florida (away), Ole Miss (home) Nice rebound for the Razorbacks against Mizzou after the 21-point home beating they took from LSU. 11. South Carolina (11-6, 2-3) Previous ranking: 13 Last week: 1-1 (Lost at Alabama, won at Georgia) | This week: Kentucky (home), Tennessee (home) The win in Athens was historic, but the Gamecocks won’t get away with that poor shooting against the Wildcats or Volunteers. 12. Mississippi State (13-4, 1-3) Previous ranking: 8 Last week: 0-2 (Lost at Florida, lost at home to Auburn) | This week: Vanderbilt (home), Alabama (away) Three straight league losses for a Bulldogs bunch that didn’t challenge itself much in the non-conference. 13. Vanderbilt (6-11, 1-4) Previous ranking: 14 Last week: 0-2 (Lost to Tennessee and Kentucky at home) | This week: Mississippi State (road), LSU (home) The Commodores have been competitive – average loss by 8.3 points – but wins just don’t come easy in the SEC this season. 14. Texas A&M (11-6, 0-5) Previous ranking: 6 Last week: 0-2 (Lost at Kentucky and Tennessee) | This week: Ole Miss (home), Missouri (home) The Aggies were ranked fifth in the country when league play began. They’re slowly returning to full strength, though, and shouldn’t be in the SEC cellar much longer.
  11. BREAKING: South Carolina guard Rakym Felder will return to school but won’t play this season December 29, 2017 South Carolina sophomore Rakym Felder will not see the floor for the Gamecocks basketball team at all this season. Felder has been serving an indefinite suspension since an arrest in July for assault and third-degree assault and battery. According to a report from Andrew Ramspacher of The State, South Carolina head coach Frank Martin announced the developments in a teleconference on Friday morning. “I have made the decision that Rakym will not play this year,” Martin said. “There’s certain things that I’m asking Rakym to do before I allow him to be a part of our basketball team again. Those are things that I’m going to keep private for now.” Despite Martin not allowing the guard to return to the team this year, Felder is expected to return to Columbia to begin classes again during the upcoming semester. He was not enrolled this fall. “Rakym and I have gotten to a good place,” he said. “Everyone is on board with him becoming a part of our school again, starting here in January. That date has not been set.” Felder was also arrested during the fall before his freshman season, when he became a valuable member of the Gamecocks squad that Martin led to the Final Four. Felder averaged 5.6 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game last season and had a big performance in the Gamecocks upset of Duke in the NCAA Tournament.
  12. What’s holding back Kory Holden and other lingering questions as USC breaks for exams December 12, 2017 South Carolina is 8-2 through a third of its 2017-18 season. This marks the third-best 10-game start in Frank Martin’s six years as Gamecocks coach. But, as Booker was alluding to, the record’s not matching Martin’s level of satisfaction. “A lot of drills with guards trying to stay in front of the ball,” Gravett said of his practice expectations. “It starts with me up top when I pick up somebody from half-court. If I don’t do my job, then I’m failing the rest of my teammates. “So just be ready for that, and a lot of running – like he said.” Booker, for emphasis, then added: “Running.” It’s been a roller coaster of a beginning for the Gamecocks in their post-Final Four year. Some lingering questions between now and when USC resumes play next Tuesday at Clemson: What’s holding back Kory Holden? Carolina was always going to struggle to replace the offensive production authored by Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier, but Holden was at least expected to play a significant role. Martin in the preseason told tales of Holden once “toying” with Thornwell and Duane Notice in summer workouts. Holden averaged close to 18 points per game in his final season at Delaware. But the transfer’s numbers through 10 contests in a USC uniform: 2.8 ppg with a field goal percentage of 31.3. He’s gone scoreless in four games this season. That never happened in two years at Delaware. Couple things to consider: 1. Holden is coming off knee surgery slowly. 2. He’s up 32 pounds since his last season with the Blue Hens. “I’m just trying to get used to my body,” Holden said following the UTEP win on Nov. 17. “I’m on a different weight, so I’m just getting used to playing on that weight as well.” Holden was 165 at Delaware. He’s now 197. “He had no idea where the weight room was at Delaware,” Martin said. How often has the ‘best shooting team I’ve had’ showed up? Martin might sound down now, but he was upbeat just a few months ago. It was in October when the coach labeled this current bunch of Gamecocks the best shooting team he’s had in his 10 years as head coach, including his successful run at Kansas State. Through 10 games, USC is shooting 44.5 percent from the field. As it stands now, that’s the best for a Martin-coached Gamecocks team. Carolina is also attempting (22.7) and making (7.8) more 3-pointers per game than any previous Martin-coached team. USC has only shot less than 45 percent from the field twice this season. Those performances – 29.5 against Illinois State and 37.9 against Temple – led to its only losses. Since the beginning of last season, the Gamecocks are 21-0 when shooting better than 45 percent from the field. How can perimeter defense be improved? If there’s one thing Martin likely wants to get out of this extended break, it’s that his guards start defending the basketball. Gravett, a veteran of his coach’s system, knows he’s struggled in that area. Hence his outlook for the upcoming practices. But Booker, a summer transfer from FAU, can sense the frustration as well. “That’s something we’ve been dealing with for the past 10 games,” Booker said after Coastal’s starting guards combined for 34 points. “If we don’t end up being more solid on the ball, it’s gonna bite us later on. Now, during practice, we got to keep working on it, keep working on it until we become better. Also, our help-side defense has to become better also. Just in case we do get beat, it’s set up to where it’s supposed to be help and rotations. So we just got to get better.” Can Chris Silva stay out of foul trouble? Among USC’s starters, no one has averaged fewer minutes a game than Silva (24.3). Yet he leads the Gamecocks in points per game (13.7), rebounds per game (8.0), blocks (15), free throws made (60) and free throws attempted (83). The junior’s value is unquestioned. But he’s not helping USC when he’s not on the floor. Silva scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds against Coastal. It also marked the only game this season in which he committed less than three fouls. As the physical SEC slate approaches, Silva’s ability to avoid the whistle is crucial. What impact will Evan Hinson have on this team? Hinson has played in two games since moving over from the football team, making a memory in each. Against Wyoming on Dec. 6, the guard/tight end lost both of his shoes. Three days later against Coastal, Hinson went baseline for a two-handed dunk. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound sophomore will be a full-timer on Martin’s squad after the bowl game. Hinson could be key as Holden, Wes Myers and David Beatty haven’t given the Gamecocks much depth in the backcourt. “He helped us last year in practice,” Martin said last week on his radio show. “I think he’s going to help us by performing in games (this year).” THE STATE
  13. How the Final Four run has impacted South Carolina’s season ticket sales November 02, 2017 The Final Four effect on the South Carolina men’s basketball program will be seen this season at Colonial Life Arena. USC marketing director Eric Nichols told The State on Thursday over 8,700 season tickets have been sold, with ample time still remaining until the Nov. 13 home opener against Western Michigan. “That number changes significantly by the hour,” Nichols said Thursday afternoon. “One of the big thresholds that was a big deal to us was selling out the lower bowl in season tickets, which we have done.” South Carolina in 2016-17 finished 21st nationally – and fourth in the SEC – in attendance, averaging a school-record 13,395 fans at CLA. That included 8,340 season ticket holders. The fact that number has already been passed can be attributed to the Gamecocks’ Final Four run, Nichols said. “We probably sold 500 to 700 new season tickets before the summer because we were capitalizing on the emotion, the momentum that swept up South Carolina,” Nichols said. “That’s where we made the biggest changes.” USC coach Frank Martin hasn’t been shy this preseason in emphasizing the program’s need to jump on what happened last spring. The Gamecocks will raise their first Final Four banner in school history before the Western Michigan game. Nichols said season ticket sales are up 52 percent since Martin’s arrival from Kansas State six years ago “We've finally created a home court advantage environment,” Martin said last week. “We need to keep growing it, not take it for granted. We need our students, we need everyone in there. We set a school record for attendance last year. We don't need to take that for granted. We need to realize what an impact that had on our basketball program and grow it, make it stronger. “Fans aren't going to accept me coming in here going 'Ahhh, we went to the first round of the NCAA Tournament, right?' They're going to expect us to continue to grow and build and go play on Monday (national championship), not just Saturday (national semifinal round). I'm OK with that. “But that means our fans need to be on board with our continued growth and all that stuff. It all goes hand in hand. And averaging 13 (thousand), whatever we had last year, that was great for last year. Well, we need more this year.” Martin’s message doesn’t get lost in the USC ticket office. “If you’ve met or seen Frank, you know he can be motivating,” Nichols said. “And he’s motivating our entire staff as well. We’re not satisfied. We won’t stop until it’s full for every game. Even then, we’re going to keep working to get it full the following year.”
  14. National analyst gives game-by-game projection for USC’s basketball season October 23, 2017 An 8-0 start, a rough February, a middle-of-the-pack SEC finish. That’s how one popular college basketball analyst has plotted out South Carolina’s 2017-18 season. Ken Pomeroy annually crunches numbers to come up with rankings, data sheets and game predictions. His blog – kenpom.com – is a haven for hoops junkies. It’s also in consideration to help future NCAA Tournament committees find the most deserving at-large teams for its field of 68. Pomeroy on Sunday released his preseason national and conference rankings. He also used his detailed formula – which, among other things, measures offensive and defensive efficiency -- to find wins and losses for each of the 351 Division I teams. USC, according to Pomeroy, will go 17-12 overall this regular season and finish 8-10 in the SEC, good for eighth place in the 14-team league. The Gamecocks, coming off a Final Four run, were pegged to finish 11th in the SEC last week during the league’s media day in Nashville. Overall, Pomeroy has South Carolina with a No. 48 national ranking. (It finished with a KenPom No. 24 ranking last season.) Some highlights in the report: ▪ Kentucky is picked to win the SEC, followed by Florida, Texas A&M, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Auburn, USC, Mississippi, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Georgia, Missouri and LSU. ▪ The Gamecocks are picked to start 8-0 for a third consecutive season. The projection only includes one game in the Puerto Rico Tip-off, a 71-66 win over Illinois State. Of course, should USC beat the Redbirds, it’ll then face the winner of Boise State-UTEP on Nov. 17. A championship game is scheduled for Nov. 19. ▪ In perhaps South Carolina’s two most marquee home games, the projection has the Gamecocks beating Missouri, led by potential No. 1 draft pick Michael Porter Jr., by nine points on Jan. 3 and losing to Kentucky by six points on Jan. 16. ▪ KenPom’s South Carolina-Clemson projection for the Dec. 19 game in Littlejohn Coliseum: Tigers 73, Gamecocks 69 ▪ February could be daunting. The projection has USC entering the month at 14-6, but ending it 17-11. This includes a four-game losing streak to Texas A&M, Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee. ▪ USC is projected to have the nation’s 17th most efficient defense. It finished third in that KenPom category last season. ▪ USC is projected to score 71 points per game and give up 69. The Gamecocks, under Frank Martin for five seasons, have averaged 70 points and have given up 67 points per game.
  15. Frank Martin addresses former South Carolina assistant Lamont Evans scandal October 05, 2017 South Carolina men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin spoke about the arrest of his former assistant Lamont Evans, who has been connected to a recent federal corruption and bribery investigation into college basketball recruiting, saying news of the arrest “broke his heart.” Martin also reiterated that he does not believe he or South Carolina is under investigation. “Everything you know about the investigation, I know. This university is not being investigated. Lamont is being investigated. Frank Martin is not being investigated. Lamont is being investigated. This basketball team is not being investigated. Lamont is being investigated,” Martin said. Evans surrendered to federal agents and was arrested Sept. 27 after the FBI filed charges the previous day accusing him of accepting $22,000 in bribes to steer recruits to certain schools. At the time of his arrest, Evans worked as an assistant coach for Oklahoma State, which has since fired him. Evans was hired in 2016 at Oklahoma State by Brad Underwood, who previously served as an assistant for Martin. Before that, both Evans and Underwood worked under Martin at South Carolina and Kansas State. The University of South Carolina and Martin himself were never explicitly mentioned in any court documents filed by the FBI, but filings do describe a “University-2” where Evans worked from 2012 to 2016 as “a public research university located in South Carolina. With over approximately 30,000 students, it is one of South Carolina’s largest universities. University-2 fields approximately 19 varsity sports teams in NCAA Division I competition, including men’s basketball.” In a statement issued soon after Evans’s arrest, the university said the allegations against him “are not consistent with University of South Carolina values. Behavior like this will not be tolerated in our programs. Of course, we will cooperate with investigators and we look forward to justice being done in this case. Because this is an ongoing criminal matter, we will have no further comment.” In another statement, athletic director Ray Tanner said the university has not received any information to lead it to believe any other former or current staff members are under investigation. At the same time, Tanner promised to hire a third-party investigator to lead an inquiry into the allegations. Speaking Thursday, Martin said he was “not shocked” to learn about the recruiting scandal, but was surprised by Evans’s inclusion in it. “Any coach in this business that tries to act like they didn’t know there were some shenanigans going on is lying to you,” Martin said, before adding that he believes most coaches are “men of integrity” and that the business of college basketball is “not messed up.” THE STATE
  16. Michael Beasley on Frank Martin: ‘He’s a morally humble guy’ September 27, 2017 College basketball and its recruiting practices have come under fire since the FBI announced it was levying fraud and corruption charges against numerous assistants and shoe executives. But South Carolina fans will be pleased to know head coach Frank Martin has been vindicated by at least one high-profile former player: Michael Beasley. Martin coached Beasley, an eventual No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft, at Kansas State from 2007-08 before heading for South Carolina. Beasley met with the media Wednesday and, while acknowledging the wide-spread corruption in college basketball, insisted Martin always did the right thing: “I didn’t get paid to go to Kansas State,” Beasley told Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times. “We did it the right way. Frank’s a morally humble guy confident in his ways of basketball recruiting. Him throwing a dollar out — listen, he’s cheap.” Beasley also had interesting comments on players (legally) getting paid and the concept of amateurism in the NCAA. “Do I think guys should be compensated for their work? Yes,” Beasley said. “Most of us don’t make it to this level. A lot of us don’t make it to the professional level, let alone the NBA. So I do think guys should be getting paid. The NCAA is making billions, not just off basketball but off football and soccer.” South Carolina is coming off its first Final Four in program history under Martin.
  17. Coach Frank Martin addresses status of suspended guard Rakym Felder September 12, 2017 South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin addressed the status of suspended guard Rakym Felder on the College Hoops Today podcast with Jon Rothstein. Felder, a sophomore, was indefinitely suspended from the Gamecocks basketball team after he was charged with third-degree assault and battery on July 13. He’s not taking any classes this semester at South Carolina. “Rakym made a mistake and he’s paying for it,” Martin told Rothstein. “He’s an unbelievable young man. We still haven’t gotten into the conversation about him long-term yet, as a player, because we’ve been trying to help him as a person first, so he and I speak almost daily and we’re going to continue to figure out a way to help him, so he can succeed as a human being, and as soon as we can get to that place, then we’ll start talking basketball. “For now, he continues to be my guy and hopefully we can one day re-engage, from a coach-player perspective.” A key piece off the bench on last season’s Final Four team, Felder averaged 5.6 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. His best performance came during South Carolina’s Sweet 16-clinching win over Duke, when he scored 15 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and handed out 3 assists. Last fall, Felder was arrested and charged with simple assault and resisting arrest. His current suspension has been in place since an incident outside a bar on June 30, which led to charges two weeks later. In a recently released statement from his attorney, Neal Lourie, Felder expressed remorse for his actions. “I’m very sorry for my recent behavior that led to my arrest and school suspension. I take full responsibility for my actions and make no excuses for my conduct,” Felder said. “I apologize to the entire University of South Carolina family including our loyal fans, President [Harris] Pastides, Board of Trustees, Athletic Director Ray Tanner, coach Martin and his staff, and my teammates. “I know I have let you down and I will have to work hard to regain your trust.”
  18. Report: Back to MSG? USC basketball making another NY trip July 11, 2017 South Carolina’s heading back to Madison Square Garden. The Gamecocks will repeat last year’s appearance at an Under Armour doubleheader in New York this season, according to a report Tuesday from Jon Rothstein. USC will play Temple in one game on Nov. 30 while Seton Hall plays Texas Tech in the other. The Gamecocks lost to Seton Hall in the event last year, but returned to the Garden for the Sweet 16. They topped Baylor and Florida to advance to their first Final Four. USC also beat Syracuse at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center last year. Frank Martin has always tried to schedule games in New York to take advantage of the recruiting area. His wife Anya’s family is also close by. USC will play Texas Tech as well, hosting the Red Raiders on Jan. 27 as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState 2017-18 SOUTH CAROLINA BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent TBA LIMESTONE (exh.) TBA at Wofford Nov. 16-17, 19 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tipoff (San Juan) (USC, Iowa State, Tulsa, UTEP, Boise State, Florida State, Illinois State, Western Michigan) Nov. 30 Temple (New York) Dec. 2 MASSACHUSETTS TBA at Clemson TBA at Florida International Jan. 27 TEXAS TECH (Big 12/SEC Challenge) TBA WYOMING March 7-11 SEC tournament (St. Louis)
  19. How Frank Martin’s new digs offer recruiting pitch and showcase for USC basketball June 27, 2017 The process was already in motion. Construction on the basement of Carolina Coliseum began two years ago. It is a coincidence that the renovations are complete after South Carolina posted its finest season. The $4 million renovation of the former “Elephant Room” at the Coliseum is finished except for cosmetic touches and was unveiled to a small group during Monday’s Tipoff Club meeting. Frank Martin and his staff have brand-new offices (they’ve already moved in) and a showcase to sell to recruits. All that’s left to install are graphics to adorn the walls, boasting of USC’s basketball success. “They had pretty much done a final graphics package in March and we were going to move in May 15,” USC Director of Basketball Operations Andy Assaley said. “Then March happened and they said, ‘Hold on a second. We might have some new graphics.’ “We have a trophy we have to put somewhere.” It was a project that sank its roots long ago. The majority of the Coliseum was left vacant after the USC basketball teams moved into Colonial Life Arena, but the building couldn’t be razed because of the classroom space underneath it. As school by school left the basement, a plan on what to do with the once-stately temple bordering Assembly Street rose. Turn it into a women’s basketball arena? Tear it down? Make it into a venue strictly for concerts, the circus and graduation? The appeal of keeping basketball self-contained was bright, especially when plans for the 650 Lincoln dormitory were approved. If practice, games and living could all be located in the same block, wouldn’t that be conducive? “They found a way to take the old Coliseum and restore it for our practice facility,” Assaley said. That was the first step, gutting the lower level of the Coliseum’s playing floor and installing two practice courts. The signage and banners of each team’s best players – six of the seven have to be replaced for next year – grace the floor while remote-control video cameras are installed in the entries to the former concourse. Glassed-in trainers’ rooms border the courts on one side while tunnels lead to the former locker rooms for each team, which will also be renovated in the future. But the biggest project was what to do with the Elephant Room entrance, left neglected and in disrepair for years as the Coliseum aged. Knocked-out ceiling tiles, exposed wiring, racks of chairs and 50 years of storage greeted visitors if they dared walk through the doors under the marquee that read “Elephant Room” as recently as two years ago. Now it’s a gleaming corridor, flanked with new carpet and TVs. A new weight room for volleyball and basketball is at the end. Stairs and a ramp – instead of the former concrete ramp – lead to the practice floor. Martin and his staff used to have office space next door, on the top floor of the Volleyball Competition Facility. That was cleared to expand the space for Dawn Staley and her staff – it was finished before last season, but also has to add some trophy space – while the men’s staff was moved into converted luxury suites at CLA. Martin’s office is now the first door on the left inside the Elephant Room, while his staff is quartered nearby. A player lounge is nearby while a student-athlete work area is adjacent. The smells of the old area are still there, but you have to look for them. One new door outside the practice gym opens and there it is. John Roche and BJ McKie, plus KISS and Bruce Springsteen, probably walked up that dusty tunnel ramp with the concrete floor and yellow cinder-block walls. Back when the Gamecocks weren’t a Final Four program. THE STATE
  20. USC confirms two departures from men’s basketball team June 22, 2017 South Carolina rising senior Ran Tut will not return to the Gamecocks in 2017-18, coach Frank Martin announced on Wednesday. The departure of Tut isn’t surprising after the 6-foot-9 Australia native didn’t play in the Gamecocks’ final eight games and in only one of their final 15. Tut averaged 5.1 minutes in 12 games for the season, with 1.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, three blocks and three steals. Martin also confirmed the departure of Seede Keita, who had previously announced plans to transfer to St. John’s. Martin announced the news while confirming his six-man recruiting class of David Beatty, Frank Booker, Jason Cudd, Ibrahim Doumbia, Felipe Haase and Justin Minaya. USC has one scholarship to give for next season but seems to have its roster set. The Gamecocks will have two scholarships to give for their next class. 2017-18 SOUTH CAROLINA ROSTER Jarrell Holliman, Sr. w/o Frank Booker, Sr. Kory Holden, Jr. Hassani Gravett, Jr. Chris Silva, Jr. Rakym Felder, So. Maik Kotsar, So. Khadim Gueye, So. Tommy Corchiani, So., w/o Evan Hinson, So., w/o Christian Schmitt, So., w/o Jason Cudd, Fr. Ibrahim Doumbia, Fr. Felipe Haase, Fr. David Beatty, Fr. Justin Minaya, Fr. w/o Walk-on, doesn’t count toward 13-man scholarship limit
  21. Report: Chuck Martin to join South Carolina basketball coaching staff June 11, 2017 Chuck Martin has had the fortune of working with great basketball coaches, including as an assistant for John Calipari at Memphis from 2006-08. He will now serve as an assistant to one of the hottest names in the game: South Carolina’s Frank Martin. Per Jon Rothstein, Martin will join the Gamecocks staff after spending three seasons working for Tom Crean at Indiana. He will join a program that has momentum following a surprise trip to the 2017 NCAA Final Four; a run that included victories against No. 2 seed Duke, No. 3 Baylor and No. 4 Florida. Prior to his stint at Indiana, Martin worked as a scout for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Previously, he was the head coach at Marist from 2008-13 Chuck Martin has been an assistant coach with the Indiana Hoosiers the last three seasons. He is a native of the Bronx, N.Y., and worked with the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2013-14 season. He has more than 15 years of coaching experience on the NCAA Division I level, with stops at Memphis, St. John’s, Drexel and UMass. He was head coach at Marist College for five seasons.
  22. ‘It validates that’: Frank Martin reflects on five-year journey to Final Four June 04, 2017 he East Regional trophy sits on the glass-topped table in Frank Martin’s new office, a short reach from his leather recliner. It’s still in view if he’s at his desk on the other side of the room. “It’s powerful,” Martin said. “I sit at my desk and I look, whether I’m watching TV or we’re sitting here with a visitor, and it’s sitting there; it lets me know of that moment. Winning’s one thing, but the way it happened at Madison Square Garden … Frank McGuire, my family, my wife’s family, the Dunleavys, Kevin Joyce, all of the above from back then. “When you combine all that, that could have been Oklahoma City or anywhere else, but it was South Carolina in Madison Square Garden. Pretty unbelievable.” Martin met with The State this week to reflect on the whirlwind ride he’s been on since making history during his fifth year at the helm of Gamecock basketball. He spoke of what went into a Final Four season and what’s next. Q: You’re going into your 11th season as a college head coach. You’ve posted the best season by wins for two schools in that time. What does that accomplishment mean to you? A: “Proud. And it’s at two schools that there hadn’t been a whole lot of winning before we showed up on campus. But it just reaffirms to me, it’s not about me. It’s about the guys around me, the staff, how committed they are to helping me in recruiting the right players. Because everything’s about recruiting. You recruit the wrong players, I don’t care how talented you are, you’re not doing those things. And we’ve recruited the right guys. And the right guys have grown up, they believe, and we’re all rolling in the right direction. I said it five years ago when I took the job here — I’m kind of wired a little differently, I guess. I like taking on difficult tasks and kind of being a part of something for the first time. I had no guarantee that that was going to happen here, none. After my first year, I was like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot more work to do than I thought.’ And after my third year, there were days where I kind of sat back and said, ‘I don’t know if we can ever completely turn the corner.’ But my staff is the right people, our players that were in place, they kept my faith and my enthusiasm in the right place, and now here we are five years later. I’m not saying we turned the corner, I’m not saying we arrived; but once again, we’re part of something for the first time here at the school and that’s pretty special.” Q: How much does a Final Four berth aid you in recruiting, in scheduling more games with a national reach? A: “It’s not like we woke up March 26 and we said, ‘Hey, guess what? We get a chance to play for the Final Four today.’ It’s been a five-year process to allow us to have the opportunity to get to that day. We’ve recruited better every single year. At the end of the day, you can recruit all the players you want; the question that has to be answered is, the ones that sign up, are they getting better? Because of the five-year process, it’s been one layer on top of another. It gave us a chance to play on that day against the Gators to go to the Final Four. We were fortunate enough to win that game and go to the Final Four. That’s created another layer to add on all the layers that we worked so hard to build for five years … that impacts recruiting. It validates. ‘I could be a McDonald’s All-American and be good at South Carolina, and win at South Carolina.’ It validates that. Now there’s certain players that when you call, they’re like, ‘Man, I watch you guys play. Man, I love how you guys play!’ Two years ago, we didn’t have that conversation. After last year’s 25-win season, we had some conversations, now the conversations are more. It gives you a bigger pool to recruit from. Now the question is, don’t go recruit a guy that sounds right but is not about the things that helped you build to become the team that you were for the last two years. That’s what we have to be careful about.” Q: How much does the publicity of two potential NBA draft picks help? A: “Internally, that’s what it’s about. When that day comes and both of those guys’ names go up on the board, that means they did their jobs and we did ours. That means that as a campus, as a staff, all the adults around them, from family to coaches to teachers, we all did our jobs to help them continue to improve as people. It means they did their jobs. From the outside, any time a player from your team gets drafted in the NBA, there’s only 60 slots. And you’re drafting players from all over the world. That means that you recruited the right guys and you helped them get better. And that the NBA, the elite group of people that play basketball in the world, formulated the opinion that you had two of the top 60 players in the world on that given year. That’s pretty powerful.” Q: You’ve spoken a lot about your star players at Kansas State and how they were models of other players you want to coach. Where will Sindarius Thornwell fit into future speeches? A: “All four of those guys, actually, the three seniors and P.J. It’s easy to sign up to be the next guy. There’s a lot of big safety nets underneath that decision. It’s hard to sign up when you’re expected to be a real good player and go to a situation where you’re going to face failure, or the possibility of failure is greater, so that safety net underneath you is a lot smaller. And those guys signed up for that. They signed up on faith. I couldn’t tell them, ‘Hey, we’re going to win.’ They didn’t know. I had nothing to prove to them that we were going to win. And they signed up for it. And there were things they handled right, there were things I handled right, there were things I handled wrong, there were things they handled wrong. But the faith in one another never wavered. And that’s why those guys are so special. That’s why we won 51 games over the last two years. After P.J.’s freshman year, I answered a lot of questions, ‘Oh, P.J.’s not playing well.’ And my response is pretty consistent – ‘Funny that the starting point guard on a team that won 25 games doesn’t play well. How does that work?’ He was a freshman. He was trying to figure it out. He didn’t run away from it, went at it every day, grew up. And we go to the Final Four with him as a sophomore point guard. Then you take Duane, Justin and then obviously Sindarius, because he was the first high-profile guy to sign up. And he took on what I’ve always called the burden of winning. He took that on without anyone there to help him manage that. See, he helped P.J. manage that from freshman to sophomore. Sindarius never had help. The only guy that understood that was Bruce Ellington, but Bruce wasn’t in the locker room with Sin but for maybe two weeks. It was hard for Bruce from afar, through text messages and all that, to help Sindarius with all that. Sin had to figure it out on his own. That’s powerful stuff. Jacob Pullen had Denis Clemente to learn from. Then Jake passed it on to the next guy and the next guy passed it on to Rodney McGruder and so forth. But Sin never had anybody in front of him to help, and that’s what makes him … he could have done what most good players that don’t have immediate success do in today’s day and age – transfer. He didn’t. He didn’t run away from it. On the contrary, he kept showing up every day and getting better and getting better and he’s right in there. When I speak about guys now, he’s going to be in that conversation.” Q: How do you replace the leadership you lost? A: “I don’t tell individuals how they need to do things. I spend a lot of time with them trying to figure out where they think they’re at and where they want to be. And then my challenge is to help them get there. I spend a lot of time with the team in front of everybody pressuring all of them for better leadership. Then from those conversations privately to the ones with the team, certain guys start taking ownership of continuing to improve themselves but taking ownership of leading. As I create that internal peer pressure to figure out who wants to take on those responsibilities, then me and my staff, we start helping those guys that signed up for the job. I’ve never been a big believer that because a guy averages 18 points a game, he’s your leader. Some guys want to do their part and don’t want to get involved in other people doing their part. One of the best leaders I’ve ever been around was a guy named Chris Merriewether. Came in as a walk-on, averaged maybe 1.5 points per game as a career. He’s as good a leader as I ever had, because he brought an enthusiasm, a work ethic, a relentless approach every single day, great teammate, so I played him. And because I played him, it validated to his teammates that I trusted him. And it validated to him, ‘I got to make sure I do my part, because Frank trusts me, that’s why he plays me.’ And he became an unbelievable leader for a guy that scored 1.5, two points a game for a career. So that’s how I kind of go about it, and now we use the summer to try to figure out who wants to embrace the new roles and new responsibilities, and the ones that kind of sign up for it now are the ones I trust in come next fall. THE STATE
  23. Freshman David Beatty brings Philly toughness to Gamecocks May 02, 2017 The backcourt isn’t barren but last year’s backups have to accelerate into starting roles. South Carolina’s East Regional championship team lost its three starting guards and a senior backup that accumulated nearly 68 percent of its scoring. Rakym Felder, Hassani Gravett and Kory Holden have been with the Gamecocks for a year and will be counted on to fill the gaping void left by Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice, Justin McKie and P.J. Dozier. Their experience is invaluable. Freshman David Beatty won’t have experience right yet – but he plans to make up for it with an array of skills that will have him challenging for a starting role upon first stepping foot on campus. “It’s very exciting to know the spotlight is going to be on us,” Beatty said Monday. “I want to repeat the tournament run and make all the fans happy next year.” Beatty (pronounced BEET-ee) is the highest-rated player in the Gamecocks’ four-man recruiting class, a four-star guard rated 32nd at his position nationwide. The 6-foot-3 shooter from Philadelphia chose USC over Connecticut, Georgetown, Indiana, Maryland, UCLA and Virginia. The “lifetime two-guard” could come in and start right away, with Felder at the point and Holden on the other wing, Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar in the middle. He’s due to be enrolled by July 1 – he doesn’t graduate high school until June 16 – but Beatty will be able to get to Columbia, play pickup in the S.C. Pro-Am and get a crash course in Frank Martin Basketball 101 before official practice begins. That begins with defense, the kind of in-your-face aggression that had opponents sweating just watching film last year. Beatty’s not concerned about elevating his game in that department. “That’s not going to be a big deal,” he said. “I take pride in my defense. I’ve played for defense-first coaches all my life.” That, combined with the Philly background, has Martin excited. “David brings that mentality, that Sindarius has, that Rah Felder has. It’s an aggressive toughness,” Martin said. “Everyone thinks of tough as guys wanting to fight. It’s not about fighting, it’s about standing up to adversity and not backing up a step. That’s kind of the way David’s cut.” Beatty closed his high-school career with 19 points in a state championship win, leading Imhotep Charter to its first title since 2013. He and Rhode Island signee Daron Russell paced the Panthers’ backcourt throughout the season. Since, Beatty has been working out, playing pickup, finishing his schoolwork and discussing his plans for USC. Holden, a rising junior who can play this year after sitting out last year, has already been in contact, telling Beatty what to expect and how to handle it. Beatty anticipates a short learning curve. He wants to be an immediate answer to what the Gamecocks seek. “I’m going to try to take on a couple of those roles, scoring, defending … see what he wants me to be,” Beatty said. “Be a point guard when they need me to be, be a scorer when they need me to be. Have that mentality of being a playmaker.” Martin has been no stranger to starting freshmen if they earn it, and perhaps Beatty can be the latest to do so. He mentioned how Thornwell and Felder began their collegiate careers – each somewhat struggled early, before turning midseason flashes into consistently strong play at the end. He sees that in Beatty. “He, like all of them, are going to realize there are a lot of things that allowed them to have success in high-school basketball, is not going to allow them to have success in college basketball. They got to figure it out,” Martin said. “I think David is going to have moments early his freshman year where he’s going to maybe not play as well as he wants or I want him too, he’s going to have moments where we all see that talent and that bravado, and as he and I both understand each other and manage college basketball for him, I think by the end of the year you’re going to see a closer product of who he’s going to be moving forward.” THE STATE
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