In the end, Frank Martin and South Carolina beat out a slew of like-minded coaches and programs for Jermaine Couisnard.
Louisville, Virginia Tech, Illinois and West Virginia showed interest in the 6-foot-4, 185-pounder, but the Gamecocks were the team with a history of physical guards that got Couisnard to join their 2018 class. Couisnard committed to USC on Saturday.
“The schools that were recruiting him, they’re all kind of in the same mold,” said Corey Evans, national analyst for Rivals.com. “He definitely found the perfect niche in South Carolina.”
Couisnard was barely on the national radar in November when he began a prep year at Montverde Academy in Florida. Despite a prolific career at East Chicago Central High School in Indiana (see nearly 30 points per game as a senior), Couisnard was sitting on one offer – from Bradley of the Missouri Valley Conference.
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Representatives of the ACC, Big 10, Big 12 and SEC eventually came in waves.
“His rate of progression is unbelievable,” Evans said. “This kid went into his senior season with no scholarship offers at all, like not even a low major one. Bradley offered him in October.
“The fact you go from nothing to Missouri Valley to Louisville to Virginia Tech, Illinois, South Carolina, that speaks volumes on what he’s done and how much he’s improved over the past four, five, six, seven months.”
Couisnard, now playing against stiffer competition, is averaging 23 points, six rebounds and seven assists a game for Montverde, a program that’s produced the likes of Ben Simmons, D'Angelo Russell, Joel Embiid and Kyrie Irving from its undergrad team.
“The one thing that really stands out to me about him and why I think he translates so well to South Carolina is how hard he plays, how competitive he is,” Evans said. “And that’s probably why he’s really broken out in a way. He’s a late bloomer in regards to his skill set. He’s playing on a better platform with the Montverde prep team, so he’s being seen a little more and he has better talent around him.
“But really it’s how hard he plays on both sides of the floor. You have guys that, for the most part, it’s all about their offense until they get to college, and that’s when they hit the wall. With Jermaine, he’s willing to play both sides of the floor just as hard, if not more on the defensive end.”
Evans rates Couisnard as a “high-end three-star” prospect who is just outside Rivals’ top 150 players in the ’18 class.
Couisnard gives South Carolina a taller version of Duane Notice, Evans said. The 6-2 Notice was voted SEC Sixth Man of the Year in 2015-16. As a senior in 2016-17, Notice finished fourth on the team in scoring (10.2 points per game) and made his case as one of the nation’s top perimeter defenders.
“They both can create for others and themselves,” Evans said. “They both play hard on both ends.
“Jermaine might be a better shooter early on. He’s a little streaky, but he can be a weapon, I think, from 20 feet. In today’s game, you need shooters and Jermaine can definitely do that. He plays with a lot of confidence.”