Deloach claims he was pushed out

06/19/2008 12:01 AM

06/19/2008 8:24 AM

Before Trevor Deloach met with Darrin Horn last month, he asked USC men’s basketball teammates who had already met with the new coach what to expect. Routine stuff, they told him, such as academics, family and summer jobs.

It did not turn out to be that way for Deloach.

“He started asking about the grades, and I was thinking I was gonna get the same conversation everyone else got,” Deloach said.

And then came the stunner: “He just said my strengths didn’t fit with what he was trying to do. ... He said I wasn’t going to play.”

A month later, Deloach is transferring to Chipola Junior College in Florida. The Saluda native never suited up for the Gamecocks, having redshirted this past season under previous coach Dave Odom.

Deloach spoke publicly Tuesday for the first time since his meeting with Horn. He confirmed that he wouldn’t have left without a push, and decided not to stay and prove himself because Horn’s mind seemed set.

“It’s a motivation. It’ll help me work harder to get to where I wanna be,” Deloach said. “Basically what (Horn) told me was I wasn’t good enough for the SEC, and I knew I was. So I’m just gonna prove him wrong.”

Deloach will play one year at Chipola, where his backcourt-mate will be former Latta High School guard Lashay Paige. After next season, Deloach hopes to go back to a Division I school with three years of eligibility.

St. John’s and Fordham have said they will keep in touch with Deloach. He has also heard from Wichita State, Coastal Carolina and South Carolina State. His AAU coach, De Pierce, said Minnesota coach Tubby Smith recently called about him.

Horn could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. He said last month that he would have honored Deloach’s scholarship — which the player confirmed — but that Deloach “felt it was in his best interests to pursue other opportunities.”

Deloach thinks other factors were involved because Horn never saw him playing 5-on-5, and Deloach was not on game film from last season.

“It could be politics,” Deloach said. “It could be he didn’t want any freshman in. It could be he wanted more scholarships to recruit. It could be a lot oft things.”

In the meantime, Deloach is saying goodbye to his teammates, especially close friends Sam Muldrow and Devan Downey.

“I had bonded with them in a year and I had planned on being a Gamecock for four years. But they cut it short,” Deloach said. “But I mean I’ve gotta live and learn, move on to what I’m successful at.”

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.

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