When the South Carolina men's basketball team takes the court for its exhibition game tonight, there will be a new starter at shooting guard. Zam Fredrick is gone, replaced by ...
Well, who knows yet. The coaching staff will decide before the game, and coach Darrin Horn emphasized Wednesday that the selection might not be much of an indicator for the season.
But more remains to be decided than simply who will be the fifth person announced during pregame introductions.
Much has been made of the Gamecocks returning four starters from a team that went 21-10 and ended a two-year postseason drought. The problem is the one who left averaged 15.7 points a game last season and was the second-leading scorer the past two seasons.
Fredrick was the second player after Devan Downey who the team knew would take the big shot. Fredrick hit two game-winners last year, at Baylor and home against Florida.
Forward Dominique Archie might be the Gamecocks' clear second-best player after Downey. But Archie, who averaged 10.9 points per game last season, is more of an all-around player, not a shoot-first type.
That's why Horn said he believes the secondary scorer role will be filled by any number of players.
"Zam Fredrick was a huge key to what we did last year, was just one of those guys that has a special knack for scoring the ball and finding a way to get his shot," Horn said. "Who do we have that can go make something happen? We've got other guys."
Freshmen wings Lakeem Jackson and Ramon Galloway can get shots. The team can also run set plays for junior post players Sam Muldrow and Mike Holmes. Archie is a threat to score anywhere on the floor.
"I think it was one other guy last year because Zam was good at it, and it was one other guy last year because those were the two guys (Downey and Fredrick) that we had," Horn said. "This year there won't be a need for that, and I think that can make us more dangerous. Because maybe you get that same effect by moving the ball even more."
Downey might take a bigger share of the scoring load. The star point guard, who averaged 19.8 points per game last year, could take pressure off Galloway and Jackson.
"I think early on, I might have to score a little bit more," Downey said. "But the freshmen, the guys we've got, are very talented. Once they get comfortable, they're going to take the load off me."
What Fredrick did best was to shoot a 3-pointer or attack the basket at any point in the game. Horn said the Gamecocks will not have that, at least from anyone not named Downey.
"So will it be one guy? I don't know that it'll be one guy," Horn said. "But I think collectively in some ways it could almost be better."
Baniulis out. Senior forward Evka Baniulis will miss tonight's game because of a hamstring injury. Junior forward Johndre Jefferson (achilles) and freshman guard Stephen Spinella (concussion) were cleared to practice Wednesday and their status will be evaluated today.