The South Carolina men's basketball team season-opener is set to be a family affair — When South Carolina takes on USC Upstate at home on Tuesday night, two father-son duos will be on the court.
The game will mark the first time senior forward Brandon Martin plays for his father, South Carolina men's basketball head coach Frank Martin. It will also be the first time redshirt sophomore forward Dave Dickerson III plays for his father, USC Upstate men's basketball head coach Dave Dickerson Jr.
Dickerson III spent the 2019-20 academic year at the University of South Carolina, but he never tried out to play with Martin.
Though Dickerson III said he truly enjoyed his time in Columbia, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted him to move back to the Spartanburg area to help at home and to transfer to USC Upstate.
“Overall, it’s been a great experience, getting to see him every day, and getting to play for him,” said Dickerson III. “It’s really like a surreal experience.”
In high school, Dickerson III had another surreal experience. He won a South Carolina state basketball title at Dorman High School in Roebuck, South Carolina. His high school team included four other Division 1 basketball players, two of which made the NCAA Tournament a season ago. Two others play on Power 6 teams.
Although he excelled in his last season of high school basketball, Dickerson III had problems at home. In 2017, his mother, Laurette, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
Coupled with virus concerns, Dickerson III and his father stayed at home during the 2020-21 season.
“It was the hardest decision that I've ever had to make, but it was the easiest decision because I provide myself on my faith and my family, and then basketball,” coach Dickerson said. “It was a decision that I had to make, and it was something that I had to do, and obviously to this point it was a very good decision, cause she’s really gotten better.”
In the year since, coach Dickerson and Laurette have been able to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Laurette recently got the booster shot, which he said lowers her concern.
Coach Dickerson said that Laurette plans to be in attendance for her husband’s first game as a head coach since March 5, 2020, and his first-ever coaching his son.
“It’s really been a dream come true,” coach Dickerson said. “I never really had an opportunity to coach him ... And that’s something I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to do.”