Three points on South Carolina’s basketball team snaring its first recruiting commitments for 2012:
• Florida high school teammates Carlos Morris and Ian Baker are solid additions to the Gamecocks. Neither player from Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville is among top 150 prospects by Rivals, but they are 3-star rated and had plenty of offers from high-majors.
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Morris -- a 6-foot-5 slasher who is a good defender -- is a candidate at small forward after Malik Cooke graduates, where he would play along side Anthony Gill or R.J. Slawson. At 6-foot-1, Baker is USC’s tallest point guard. He can shoot, but he will have to show he can handle the ball and run the floor well enough to supplant Eric Smith.
• Some experts are speculating that USC might not use its two remaining open scholarships for next season. There is some logic to that. Coach Darrin Horn has said that having point guard Bruce Ellington even for part of a season after he’s done with football is like adding a scholarship player. The latest commitments would give the Gamecocks 12 active players on its 2012-13 roster, the most Horn has ever had in Columbia. (He had 13 players on last year’s roster, but two were inactive.)
Yet if Horn were to add another player, he ought to think big. USC has four players who are 6-foot-7 or taller, tied for the fewest in the SEC. Conference rosters average six big men. Just a few big men remain on USC’s prospects list, including one from Orangeburg County who has been drawing a of attention from big programs recently. (More on him below.)
• The timing of the verbal commitments by the Florida duo was crucial. Three of the Gamecocks’ top targets recently committed to schools in the Peach State: small forward Marcus Hunt and shooting guard Chris Bolden chose Georgia Tech, while shooting guard Kenny Gaines picked Georgia.
Meanwhile, the Palmetto state’s top recruit, 6-foot-9 power forward Brice Johnson of Edisto High, is expected to announce his final five schools as early as today. USC is expected to make the cut -- keeping hopes alive that Horn can nab his third straight top South Carolina high schooler. Clemson, UNC and N.C. State also are expected to reach the final five for campus visits. The other schools on Johnson’s list are Ohio State, Florida and Baylor.