Team loses 5 players, associate head coach
USC’s men’s basketball team will be almost unrecognizable when it takes the court this fall.
After coach Frank Martin’s first year at South Carolina, four players and an assistant coach will not return to the squad. An incoming class of seven recruits will fill out the roster.
Four of the incoming players are guards, including semester addition Tyrone Johnson, a transfer from Villanova, who will be able to play after Dec. 17. Among the others is Justin McKie, son of USC’s all-time leading scorer, B.J. McKie.
At the time of his signing in November, Martin said McKie had improved “as much as any player” he’d watched in the past seven months. McKie had a double-double, with 20 points and 10 rebounds, in South Carolina’s state championship game this spring, leading Irmo to a win.
“We really like his toughness, his ability to play defense in a system that is similar to ours and his length and size on the perimeter,” Martin said in a release. “He is someone that, as we move forward, we think he is definitely a great part of building a championship program.”
Guard Sindarius Thornwell is Martin’s other in-state recruit. Thornwell, who played for Oak Hill Academy, was rated the top player in South Carolina by ESPN.com.
“In today’s day and age, you have players that are highly ranked across the country that have a sense of entitlement, and he does not,” Martin said. “He remains very humble and very loyal to his state.”
The three most recent additions to the class were Demetrius Henry, a forward and center, guard Duane Notice and forward Reggie Theus Jr.
Henry, a fifth-year senior, was ranked a top-100 recruit by a number of websites, and ESPN.com called him the No. 33 power forward in the nation. At 6 feet 8 inches, he will be among the tallest players on South Carolina’s roster.
Notice has just one year of playing experience in the U.S. A native of Canada, the guard played one postgraudate season at St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn. Martin praised his skill and competitiveness and said Notice would bring much needed size and strength to his position.
Theus, son of the former Sacramento Kings player and coach by the same name, hails from Fairfax, Calif. Martin said he “has improved by leaps and bounds” over his past two years of high school.
Last year’s two leading scorers, junior guard Brenton Williams and freshman forward Michael Carrera, will return to the squad this fall. Carrera, often praised by Martin for his enthusiasm on the court, also led the team in rebounding.
But the Gamecocks will be without forward Lakeem Jackson, who played four seasons for the Gamecocks. He averaged 7.5 points per game as a senior last season.
Guards Damien Leonard, Eric Smith and Brian Richardson and forward RJ Slawson asked for their release after the team’s end-of-season meetings. Associate head coach Brad Underwood, who came with Martin from Kansas State, was hired as the head coach at Stephen F. Austin last week.