It was met with a shrug, as it usually is.
South Carolina traditionally gets no respect in the preseason SEC basketball poll, so why should this year be any different?
“It don’t really matter where you’re picked in the preseason,” senior Sindarius Thornwell said. “Only thing that matters is where everybody is in March. And hopefully, we’re not at eighth in March.”
The Gamecocks came in eighth in the preseason media poll despite finishing third last year and returning Thornwell and Duane Notice, the reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year. Neither player earned a mention on the preseason all-SEC team, which featured three freshmen yet to play a college game, and not one 1,000-point scorer – something Thornwell and Notice have each accomplished.
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The “disrespect” angle has long been discussed so it won’t be posted in the locker room this season. USC found out last year the only way to make people believe is to win.
“We just focus on the rankings during the season and how we complete the season,” Notice said. “If that’s how they view us, that’s how they view us.”
As it has 12 times since 1998, Kentucky was picked to win the SEC. Freshmen Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk joined sophomore Isaiah Briscoe on the preseason lists.
Arkansas’ Moses Kingsley was voted preseason Player of the Year, with the Razorbacks selected fifth. Florida was second, Texas A&M third and Georgia fourth.
USC is replacing its entire frontcourt, but has Thornwell, Notice and sophomore P.J. Dozier returning in the backcourt. That’s much more experience and talent than many teams.
But eighth …
“After the last three years, we were picked 57th every year … so I guess that’s progress,” joked coach Frank Martin. “We’ve been through this before. From a South Carolina perspective, I was being funny earlier, but it’s the truth. This is Year Five. The first four years, we were picked in the bottom four every single year.”
USC was spotted seventh last year and wound tying a school record with 25 wins and being left out of the NCAA Tournament. Of course, predictions mean nothing, but USC would like a little more respect.
Especially when it comes to individual superlatives. But USC knows the best approach is to let their play talk.
“I’m disappointed for Sindarius and Duane, guys that have won awards in this league,” Martin said. “I’m glad I don’t have to play against those guys.”
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Preseason media poll
3. Texas A&M
8. South Carolina
9. Ole Miss
10. Mississippi State