Long before Frank Martin worked with Jay Cyriac in recruiting, the South Carolina head coach and Hutchinson Community College assistant worked basketball camp together. Martin, at that time, was only in charge of Miami High School.
“So I know what he demanded at Miami High and every level since,” Cyriac said. “Devonte brings that mental toughness that’s made Coach Martin so successful.”
Devonte Bandoo is a 6-foot-3, 185-pound shooting guard from Hutchinson who will be joining Memphis point guard T.J. Moss on an official visit to USC this weekend. JUCORecruiting.com ranks Bandoo as the No. 11 JUCO player in the 2018 class. He’s posted career averages of 14.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He led Hutchinson with 22 points in the 2017 junior college national championship game. He was named first-team all-region and all-conference in 2017-18.
But here’s (potentially) the best news for South Carolina: Bandoo has no visits planned beyond Columbia.
“People are calling,” Cyriac said, “but he’s the kind of kid where he’s not trying to make a dramatic thing. Oklahoma was very interested, but they got a grad transfer just last weekend.
“There’s schools calling from different levels, but I think he’s kind of like, ‘Well, if I go to South Carolina and I like it for me, I’m just going to go to South Carolina. I’m not going to make a circus out of it. Like if I go there and it’s for me, why do I need to go somewhere else?’
“If he didn’t (commit to USC) for whatever reason – and I’m not saying he will or won’t – and he’s not sure, then I think he’ll probably call me or call somebody and say, ‘Hey, what else should I do?’ That’s just the way he operates.”
Recruiting site 247Sports.com lists Oklahoma, West Virginia, Houston and New Mexico as programs that have offered Bandoo. South Carolina, however, might have an edge.
Cyriac, who’s coached on all levels of college basketball and was once a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers, has a longstanding relationship with Martin. While an assistant for Seward Community College in 2011, Cyriac sent JUCO All-American guard Jeremy Jones to play for Martin at Kansas State.
“It’s a good situation for Devonte,” Cyriac said. “They have a great opportunity for him athletically. Obviously, I’m not the one that has to go to school there, but I have a high comfort level with Coach Martin and (USC director of basketball operations) Andy Assaley. I’ve known them since Kansas State.
“I’m not the one that’s making the decision for him – I’m not the one that’s got to go to school there – but I'm just comfortable. And I’ve taken the time to explain that to him. ‘There’s a ton of good opportunities out there, but this one’s right in front of you in a lot of ways.’”
Bandoo is from Canada but has ties to the South after playing AAU ball in Atlanta for Stackhouse Elite, run by former North Carolina star and NBA player Jerry Stackhouse.
Brendan Walker, the national director of junior college scouting and recruiting for Elite Basketball Services, told The State on Thursday that Bandoo is the best unsigned JUCO player remaining in the ’18 class.
“I think he’d fit in real well,” Walker said of South Carolina. “One of the things that he’s done in his two years of JUCO is his body went from being 6-3 and kind of lanky to now he’s like strong. His forearms are much bigger.
“He’s a really good defender. You don’t get to see that a lot in junior college, but he’s going to be a real good defender at the next level. He plays hard. So you gotta think that’s what Coach Martin wants a lot of.”