After making the Final Four last season, the SEC media predicted the Gamecocks to finish 11th in the SEC preseason media poll last month.
Go ahead and doubt this South Carolina men’s basketball program again, just like everyone did last year.
There is no denying that this year’s team looks a lot different than the team that made it to the Final Four for the first time in program history. It would be naïve to say it's easy to replace what starters Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice and PJ Dozier, along with role player Justin McKie, did to help lead this team to the Final Four.
But to act like there is no talent on this team would also be misleading.
Junior forward Chris Silva and sophomore forward Maik Kotsar, the only returning starters from last year’s team, will look to have an impact on the court. Silva averaged 10.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game last year, while Kotsar averaged 5.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.
As the only returning guard from last year's team, junior guard Hassani Gravett will have an elevated role this season. He averaged 3.2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 16.6 minutes per game coming off the bench.
There are several newcomers on this team who can contribute right away. Freshmen David Beatty, Jason Cudd, Ibrahim Famouke Doumbia, Felipe Haase and Justin Minaya along with transfers Kory Holden, Frank Booker and Wesley Myers have tremendous upside.
Head coach Frank Martin has called this year's team the best shooting team he's had in his 10 years as a coach.
“We’ve got multiple guys that are shot makers," he said.
It's crazy that a team that went to the Final Four just last season was picked to finish 11th out of 14 teams in the SEC. The Gamecocks lost arguably one of the best players in program history, but there is still talent on this team. Plus, Martin has a knack of developing talent and the ability to instill a great defensive mindset.
So, let the SEC media underestimate the Gamecocks again. Remember, this is the same poll that had South Carolina projected to finish eighth in the conference last year, and, well, the rest is history.