Gamecock fans got a first look at the 2022-2023 men's basketball team during a Nov. 2 exhibition game against Mars Hill University.
From the first tip off, the Gamecocks showed control on both sides of the ball and the offense led the team to an 80-41 victory. With only four players returning from last season, head coach Lamont Paris said the exhibition game was good experience.
“We have a lot of guys that are at a new position, playing more than they've ever played, starting where they've never started, were in high school last year, playing in a completely different position — that's everybody on our whole team, honestly," Paris said. "I thought the guys handled it really well overall, I'm really pleased with what we did.”
South Carolina’s top recruit and five star prospect freshman forward GG Jackson thrived on the court and proved he is one to watch this season in his debut at Colonial Life Arena. Jackson scored 11 points in addition to the seven rebounds during the game.
“It was just fun to get out there," Jackson said. "I was extremely nervous when the team was in the huddle. But as soon as we went out and I got to see the crowd and I got a feel for the ball, it was pretty straight."
South Carolina’s offense led the Lions in three-point shot percentage 42.9% to 16.7% and in total shots during the first half. The team picked up momentum in the second half and ran away with the lead, doubling the total points scored.
Junior guard Meechie Johnson dominated on the court and led the team in points on the night with 16 while hitting a pair of three point shots. Johnson has proven himself as a leader for the Gamecocks in the preseason.
“This is a new team of young guys, so for me, it was just to go out there and be a leader,” Johnson said. “There's going to be some ups and downs, and I was just grateful to be in that position. ... If you just take it one game at a time and enjoy the moment, you’ll have fun.”
Senior guard Chico Carter Jr. also flourished as a leader in a veteran role, scoring 13 points with three three-point shots.
“Chico has been really consistent, he's improved so much,” Paris said. “He's been really, really, really good at being committed to changing some things, he's talented, he can make shots, he plays at a pace where he can play off the shot face and that yielded him a wide open lay-up today.”
Illinois transfer redshirt junior forward Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk led the way for the defense, stopping the Mars Hill offense. Bosmans-Verdonk had 12 rebounds in the exhibition game defending the ball for South Carolina and giving the offense a chance to score.
Paris and the Gamecocks led the Lions 48% to 28% in field goal percentage and 47 to 32 in total rebounds.
South Carolina will stay at home to play against South Carolina State on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. for the season opener.