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Fan event includes debut of new uniforms

No. 15 Malik Cooke
No. 15 Malik Cooke

There was a difference in turnout for the South Carolina men's basketball team's second annual student scrimmage on Wednesday: More students, less players.

Four of the team's 13 players missed the practice, including the Gamecocks' best player. Senior point guard Devan Downey had flu-like symptoms, according to coach Darrin Horn.

Junior Johndre Jefferson, a junior college transfer expected to help with frontcourt depth, is estimated to be out 10-14 days with a strained right Achilles tendon.

Jefferson was at the scrimmage, wearing a boot on his right foot. But guards Stephen Spinella (concussion) and Robert Wilder (right foot sprain) were not and are listed as day-to-day. Forward Evka Baniulis missed the scrimmage because of a class conflict.

Jefferson seems unlikely to play in USC's exhition game Nov. 5 against Kentucky Wesleyan. His status for the season opener on Nov. 13 against Alabama A&M will be determined.

"It's real early in the year. So we're always going to be on the side of being cautious on all of that stuff," Horn said. "Even Johndre, it's just a sprain, but we're going to take our time to make sure it's fully healed."

The other nine players were there, as were a crowd of about 500 students.

The team used the occasion to unveil new uniforms, including an alternate gray jersey for home games. The home jerseys will say "Gamecocks" and the road jerseys -black, with garnet no longer in use - will say "South Carolina."

"It was time to get something new," Horn said. "We actually had our guys, our upperclassmen, have a hand in that, in that design. And just tried to do something different."

The event itself was different, as students were brought in from the crowd for demonstrations. Horn instructed the students on the preferred way to act during free throws - Gamecocks and opponents - and 3-point tries by USC.

It was also the first chance for students to see Jackson and Ramon Galloway, the highly-touted freshmen guards. Jackson had a good showing despite starting the practice with a missed dunk.

"I didn't have control of the ball," Jackson said, smiling. "But everyone showed support. There weren't any boos. I still confident on my next dunk."

The event had an upbeat feel to it, with Horn hosting.

"I do what I have to do," Horn said. "I enjoy when I'm among my people, and these students, they're everything to the energy in our arena. We truly consider them an extension and a part of our team. It's almost like being at practice."

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