GREENVILLE - Despite losing Dominique Archie to a knee injury early in the season, then dismissing starting power forward Mike Holmes from the team, South Carolina men's basketball coach Darrin Horn did not make excuses for his team's 15-16 record on Thursday at the Greenville County Gamecock Club meeting.
Instead he chose to look to the future.
"We're really excited about our incoming recruiting class," said Horn, coming off his first losing season as a coach. "It is a big class with six guys. It has a lot of home-grown kids, which we are really excited about. It addresses all of our needs, too, from a position standpoint and athletically and it gives us depth."
Leading the class is Berkeley point guard Bruce Ellington, Goose Creek forward R.J. Slawson and two players from North Carolina, forward Damontre Harris and shooting guard Brian Richardson.
Horn also is high on Malik Cooke, a transfer from the University of Nevada.
"Malik Cooke is a great athlete who wants to do one thing - win," Horn said. "He is going to be a big part of our team. He is a really hard worker and guy who is a leader."
Horn is also is also excited about the team's workouts, which have ended so the players can study for exams.
"Ramon Galloway, who weighs 170 pounds soaking wet and may be the only person skinnier than me, has really worked hard in the weight room," Horn said. "A few weeks ago he couldn't bench press 185 pounds once. The other day he benched 185 pounds six times."
The Gamecocks, who had to slow down their offense a lot last season because of a lack of depth, plan to return to an up-tempo style.
"We hope to play as fast as we can," Horn said. "That's the way we like to play and, more importantly, that is the way the team likes to play."
And the loss of senior point guard Devan Downey leaves a void that will be impossible to replace, according to Horn.
"You are talking about a guy who averaged more points per game in SEC play (than anyone) since Shaq (O'Neal)," said Horn. "You are not going to replace that."