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Lone USC signee for 2008 released from commitment

The recruiting class that Darrin Horn inherited at South Carolina no longer exists.

Darius Morrow, the lone recruit to sign with the men’s basketball team, asked to be released from his letter-of-intent on Thursday, and Horn granted it.

Morrow, a 6-foot-8 forward from Atlanta, spoke Thursday night with Horn, and the two agreed to part ways.

“We let Darius know from the time that we got the job that we would honor the scholarship,” Horn said. “But obviously the transition is tough, and I think understandably his comfort level is maybe not what he wants it to be. We respect that, and we wish him well.”

Morrow expressed satisfaction with Horn’s hiring two weeks ago. But the player said he was upset Horn did not visit him personally, instead sending assistant coach Cypheus Bunton, while Morrow read that Horn was visiting other recruits for future classes.

Horn did have a visit scheduled for today, but Morrow left a message Thursday night to tell him not to bother.

“I’m really not feeling wanted at the University of South Carolina anymore, ever since the coaching change,” said Morrow, who signed last November with previous coach Dave Odom. “I understand he’s getting ready to move from Kentucky and all that. But he went to go see all these other recruits, and I signed. I have already signed a letter-of-intent to play at his school. And he couldn’t come and see me one time. We barely even talked. If I go there, I feel like I’m not going to have a good relationship with him.”

Morrow led Columbia High to a Georgia state championship last month, and his coach, Phil McCrary, declared that Morrow was a better prospect than former teammate Jeremy Price, now at Georgia.

Morrow’s decision opens a scholarship for the Gamecocks, although it’s not clear if another one was already open. Odom said he expected to lose a scholarship due to the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, which is released in May.

USC’s director of compliance, Jennifer Stiles, said recently the team took the scholarship hit this past season, as a result of Mike Jones’ dismissal for academic reason. But an NCAA spokesman, Erik Christiansen, said a school could not take a scholarship hit retroactive to the APR’s release.

Either way, Horn appears to be leaning towards not using all their 13 scholarships next season.

“I had no idea this was going to happen.” Horn said. “I don’t think it’ll change what we’re doing at all. ... If we could find a kid that that was an impact we would probably take that, even with thinking Darius might’ve come in, for depth reasons and that kind of thing. So obviously this opens up a scholarship, it changes that part of it.”

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.

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