Summertime, and it’s hot and nasty. Best way to beat it is to stay indoors, and if it’s indoors watching a prelude to basketball season, count me in.
Got to take in the third day of the fifth season of the S.C. ProAm on Sunday, after honeymooning and Media Days-ing during the first two. Glad to see the fans continuing to come out and support the baby of Carey Rich and Adam McDowell, who have done a fantastic job giving college kids different competition during the offseason. Sure, it can be a bit of an NBA All-Star Game feel (Defense? What’s that?) but overall it’s a great event and, selfishly, helps me out for what I can expect to see come basketball season.
First, some housekeeping. Of USC’s freshman class, only Hassani Gravett and Khadim Gueye are playing. Sedee Keita played in one game and injured his wrist while returnee Chris Silva pulled a hamstring in his only game. Both should be fine for the season.
As Frank Martin told us a month ago, Kory Holden (knee tendonitis) and Maik Kotsar (foot stress fracture) were also out. They also should be fine for the year, but it’s left most of the ProAm to the old heads.
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Sindarius Thornwell scored 45 points in his last game, a triple-overtime affair, and had 33 on Sunday. He’s more aggressive than usual, something South Carolina could use this year. Watching Gueye and knowing that he resembles Keita in that both are going to be learning on the job offensively, the Gamecocks’ guards are going to have to lead the way.
At least in the ProAm, they’re showing what they can do. Duane Notice scored 42 on Sunday, with 29 in the first half. While he was kind of pigeonholed as an outside shooter last year, if he can keep driving to the rack like he did on Sunday, it can open USC’s offense. Last year, Notice camped on the wing and either Thornwell or P.J. Dozier could drive, with Michael Carrera around for the putback. With USC’s interior in flux this year, Notice, Thornwell and Dozier can all drive, and there’s always the added benefit of Justin McKie off the bench.
McKie had 26 on Sunday, his latest great performance in an event tailored for players like him. McKie’s always had the ability, but has never been able to stay on the court – either he was recovering from a concussion or pulled hamstring, or couldn’t do well enough on the defensive end to get his minutes up. There may be times next year where USC has to go four-guard, if the new big guys can’t affect the game right away, and McKie can benefit, as well as newcomer Gravett.
Gravett is quick, explosive and unafraid to pull up for a 20-footer anytime he pleases. Yes, he’ll need to adapt to USC’s system, but he has the offensive skills to supply a boost if the three seniors and Dozier aren’t. He had 14 on Sunday.
Gueye runs the floor well and had 10 rebounds. He’ll need to learn to use his body to his advantage and be more physical and more aggressive. His only basket (he was playing for stickbacks most of the day and not targeted in the post) was during Crescent’s game-taking run late in the game. That run was triggered by Thornwell scoring six straight points and eight of Crescent’s final 14 in the comeback win.
Martin mentioned last month that USC would have “a couple of walk-ons” this year. One, assumedly, is returnee Jarrell Holliman (John Ragin will be part of the team but not on the active roster due to a medical hardship). A definite walk-on is Tommy Corchiani.
If the name sounds familiar, it should – Corchiani’s father, Chris Corchiani, was half of the famous “Fire and Ice” guard tandem at NC State. Tommy is a 6-foot-3 guard from Raleigh, N.C.
Hassani Gravett 6-12 (2-5 from 3) for 14 points. 2-3 from the line. Four rebounds, four assists, one steal, five turnovers, three fouls.
Khadim Gueye 1-3 for two points. 10 rebounds.
Sindarius Thornwell 12-23 (2-7 from 3) for 33 points. 7-8 from the line. Nine rebounds, four assists, two steals, six turnovers, two fouls.
Duane Notice 13-26 (4-14 from 3) for 42 points. 11-13 from the line. Four rebounds, nine assists, one steal.
Justin McKie 11-20 (3-8 from 3) for 26 points. 1-1 from the line. One rebound, two assists.
P.J. Dozier 13-27 (0-5 from 3) for 29 points. 3-4 from the line. Seven rebounds, one assist.
The last regular-season game of the S.C. ProAm begins at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday. Carrera is reportedly going to suit up one last time during the three-game session.
The playoffs begin at 6:15 p.m. Thursday. They’ll continue at 7 p.m. on Friday and finish with the championship at 3 p.m. on Sunday. All games are at Heathwood Hall and free of charge.
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