Season Preview: South Carolina
Last Season: 26-11, Final Four
Key Losses: PJ Dozier, Justin McKie, Duane Notice, Sindarius Thornwell
Key Additions: David Beatty, Justin Minaya, Felipe Haase, Kory Holden
Is it time we consider South Carolina a basketball school? Frank Martin’s team made it all to the Final Four before losing to Gonzaga in the national semifinal. Though there are still some pieces that return from last year’s team, a good portion of the scoring – Dozier, Notice, and Thornwell – are gone. It’s relieving to know there’s another program in the SEC along with Kentucky who’s had recent success, but it may take a bit before the Gamecocks are relevant again.
The two most experienced returners are in the frontcourt: junior Chris Silva and Maik Kostar. In his sophomore season, Silva averaged 10.2 points and 6.1 rebounds a game and is poised to be one of the best dominant centers in the conference this year. Kostar, a 6-foot-9 sophomore from Estonia, played a huge role in South Carolina’s final four run last year as a freshman and will need to stay out of foul trouble to build on his performance late last season. Four incoming freshmen: 6-foot-7 Justin Minaya, 6-foot-8 Ibrahim Doumbia, 6-foot-10 Felipe Haase, and 7-foot-1 Jason Cudd could all see minutes right away in their first year.
The primary concern with the Gamecocks is their backcourt depth. The returner with the most experience is sophomore Rakym Felder, who averaged 14.6 minutes per game last year as a freshman. He took a backseat to Dozier, Thornwell, and Notice last year, so he’ll have to grow up fast to be the lead guy at the guard spot. Hasani Garnett is another name to look out for as he averaged 16.6 minutes per game last year but had relatively low shooting percentages his sophomore season after transferring from a JUCO college. A promising newcomer is Delaware transfer, Kory Holden. A 6-foot-1 junior, Holden averaged 17.7 points per game as a sophomore and will provide a nice scoring boost in the backcourt to coincide with Felder. David Beatty, the highest ranked recruit in the incoming class, is your typical Philadelphia guard as he is tough and can play above the rim which will be interesting to see how he fits in the rotation.
A year after a surprising final four run, South Carolina will likely be at the mid-bottom tier of the SEC. Silva and Kostar are reliable pieces in the frontcourt, but will their contributions be enough to carry a team with so much you and inexperience. The incoming recruiting class ranked 13th in the SEC this year, which means it may take a year or two for this group to make an impact in Columbia.
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Rakym Felder
SG: Kory Holden
SF: Hassani Garnett
PF: Maik Kostar
C: Chris Silva
Photo: USA TODAY SPORTS