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Archie not ready to say goodbye

USC senior forward No. 21 Dominique Archie is on crutches during the game.
USC senior forward No. 21 Dominique Archie is on crutches during the game.

Dominique Archie will be honored Wednesday night with his fellow seniors on the South Carolina men's basketball team. The question now is whether he will have another Senior Night next year.

Making his first comments to the media since a season-ending knee injury in November, Archie said he would seek a sixth year of eligibility.

But if the appeal is not granted, the 6-foot-7 forward said he would "go on with my life."

"I understand it's 50-50; they can say yes or no," Archie said. "I'm not getting high hopes or I'm not trying too put myself down. I'm trying to get myself prepared for both outcomes."

To get a sixth year, the NCAA typically requires a player to have missed two seasons for reasons beyond his control. That usually means injuries but can include hardship or other extenuating circumstances.

Archie redshirted his first season at USC, when he was behind four players on the forward depth chart, including Renaldo Balkman and Tarence Kinsey. Asked Monday if he had injuries that season, Archie said: "I had some nagging stuff, not anything outstanding."

A player has to wait until after his senior season to apply for the additional year of eligibility. Gamecocks coach Darrin Horn said the team and athletics department are pouring over 600-plus cases involving sixth-year appeals. Archie said they probably would find out "in a week or two" what they could base the appeal on.

"Every case is different," Horn said. "I think what we're looking for is, based on what the guidelines are, is there anything that fits with his? Because the reality of that is most of the decisions are based on medical things."

Horn admitted it was "unsettling" that the decision was out of the program's control, and he refused to put odds on the chance of a successful appeal. Once the appeal is made, Horn estimated it would be a matter of weeks before a decision is made

"The reality of this stuff is you're at the mercy of the NCAA," Horn said. "You can do the best job you can and research and work, and we're ahead of the game already with that, and taking some initial steps to make sure we're prepared. But ultimately it comes down to them."

Despite the uncertainty, applying for the extra year seems to be the right move for Archie, given his injury situation. He will continue to rehabilitate his right knee for a few more months, and the process of working out for NBA teams starts in April, with the draft taking place in June.

So if he is granted the extra year, he would use it to show scouts his knee is fine. If he does not get a sixth season, he will be in the same spot he would have been had he not made the appeal: waiting for the knee to heal then working out for teams from the NBA and overseas.

"I'm not 100 percent, I won't be 100 percent for a while right now," Archie said. "So I don't want to go out and work out for a team when I'm only 70 to 80 percent."

Archie said he has blocked out the memory of the injury, which occurred on a dunk against Miami on Nov. 22, and hasn't watched a replay of it. But he has remained on the bench for all home games and for many road games as the team has struggled to a 10-14 record without him.

"We haven't been as successful as we wanted to," he said. "But the toughest part is trying to keep the guys up, making them have a short-term memory about the losses."

For several weeks after the injury, there was hope Archie would return. But when it was determined he had to have season-ending surgery, it was a relief, according to Archie. The uncertainty was gone, and he immediately decided to apply for the extra year.

"Rehab's gone pretty good," Archie said. "Next time y'all see me, I'll be playing in a game."

The question now is whether that game will be at the pro level or at USC.