Departures from the USC men’s basketball team continue.
First-year assistant coach Orlando Early is expected to join the staff of new N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried, according to USC and N.C. State sources. Early spent four seasons as an assistant to Gottfried at Alabama and played and coached in North Carolina.
Early’s likely exit comes after the departures of four scholarship players since the Gamecocks ended their 14-16 season a month ago.
Early helped Gottfried lead Alabama to four NCAA tournament berths from 2001-05, including an Elite Eight appearance.
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Early left Alabama to became coach at Louisiana-Monroe, where he compiled a 60-92 record in five seasons. He joined Horn’s staff nearly a year ago to help lead recruiting.
USC coach Darrin Horn said he hired Early because of his experience. He had more years on the bench than USC’s three other assistants combined.
Early is paid $150,000 a year at South Carolina. He could be replaced by Cypheus Bunton, a USC assistant who was assigned the lower-paying job of director of player development when Early was hired. Bunton and Horn were teammates at Western Kentucky.
Efforts to reach Early, Gottfried and Horn were unsuccessful Wednesday.
In an interview this year, Gottfried said Early has the ability to spot the right talent for a program, possesses the right temperament when talking with families and is “a tireless, tireless worker.”
“Some (assistants) did not want to get in a car and drive eight hours if their flight was cancelled,” Gottfried said in January. “He would go.”
Early has ties to the Tar Heel state. He went to school at Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, where he started his coaching career. He also coached at Western Carolina and Charlotte.
The Gamecocks have lost four scholarship players since the end of the season.
Sophomore guards Ramon Galloway and Stephen Spinella decided to transfer after being told their playing time would diminish next season.
Freshman point guard Bruce Ellington, the team’s leading scorer last season, decided to play football, though he will return to the basketball team after the season. His scholarship will transfer to the football team, where he is expected to be a kick returner and wide receiver.
Murphy Holloway, who was expected to be USC’s starting power forward next season, decided to return to Mississippi, where he played for two seasons before coming back to his native South Carolina to take care of family issues.
Holloway sat out last season. But he practiced with the Gamecocks, which means he might need to sit out another season before suiting up for the Rebels. If he cannot get a waiver to play right away in Oxford, Holloway said last week he did not rule out coming back to USC.