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Basketball: Gray's time fades to black

Chad Gray’s career at South Carolina started a semester late, and is ending two years early.

The sophomore forward from Kingstree was dismissed from the team Thursday for “repeated violations of team rules,” according to a statement released by new coach Darrin Horn.

“We wanted Chad to succeed both on and off the court at the University of South Carolina and gave him ample opportunity to do so,” Horn said in a statement. “Unfortunately, he was not able to meet the minimum requirements that we have established, and we are disappointed in that. We wish him nothing but the best in his future.”

USC athletics department spokesman Steve Fink said Horn was traveling and would have no further comment. Gray could not be reached for comment.

Gray is the second player from this year’s team to leave the program. Freshman guard Trevor Deloach of Saluda, who redshirted this past season, is transferring after being told by Horn that he was not in the new staff’s plans.

Horn also gave a release to the program’s lone high school signee, forward Darius Morrow from Atlanta. Gray’s departure leaves the Gamecocks with nine scholarship players for next year, unless it makes a late signing.

Gray played sparingly in his two years at South Carolina. He was at first denied admission to USC, but Gray re-applied and was admitted in December 2006. He still saw little of the court as a freshman, thanks to his late start and a turf toe injury.

As a sophomore, Gray’s passion became an issue. Then-coach Dave Odom said he wished Gray would be more upset at his lack of playing time; Gray said he was, and his quiet demeanor was being misread.

Gray never became much of a factor, averaging 2.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 19 games, with one start.

Keenan High School coach Zach Norris, who coached Gray for three years in AAU, said he had not spoken recently with Gray. But he thought the dismissal could be a “good wake-up call.”

“I always told him he had to have the work ethic to make it to the next level. I imagine that’s what it’s stemming from too,” Norris said. “He’s going to bounce back on his feet.”

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.