TeMarcus Blanton fought as hard as he could and was able to supply some valuable minutes and points for the South Carolina men’s basketball team. But the hip injury doctors compared to the one that ended Bo Jackson’s football career won’t allow him to keep competing.
Blanton, a rising redshirt junior scheduled to graduate in May 2018, announced Tuesday that he is taking a medical counter exemption and bypassing his final two years of eligibility.
“I suffered a serious hip injury that no one thought I was going to be able to come back from. But God allowed me to beat the odds and fight,” Blanton announced through social media. “I’m grateful and highly thankful for still having the opportunity to earn my degree at the University of South Carolina. Thank you BASKETBALL for finding a way for me, but this is my goodbye to you and my playing days.”
Blanton was part of coach Frank Martin’s 2014 signing class, a smooth-shooting guard from Locust Grove, Ga., who averaged 20.2 points as a senior. But during fall camp before his freshman year, Blanton suffered a freak injury to his hip.
Doctors said they’d never seen anything like it on a basketball player and could only use Jackson’s injury as a guide. Blanton redshirted the 2014-15 season and played sparingly the next year.
Blanton got into 21 games during last year’s Final Four season and scored a career-high 12 points at Kentucky. Despite walking with a noticeable limp and unable to play the same way he had in high school, Blanton reinvented himself.
He could play a few minutes at a time and hit jumpers instead of driving to the rim. Blanton’s upbeat attitude and calm presence were valuable commodities on the bench and in the locker room.
“After visiting with TeMarcus, he just cannot get his body to respond to continue to play basketball,” Martin said in a statement. “It absolutely breaks my heart that somebody with such incredible spirit can no longer play; however, he will continue to be a big part of Gamecock basketball.”
Like former walk-on guard John Ragin, who was also medically disqualified, Blanton will still be part of the team. He will remain on full scholarship, but it won’t count toward the 13-player NCAA scholarship limit.
USC was one over the 13-man limit after Justin Minaya joined the 2017 signing class, but is back to even. The Gamecocks are waiting on Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork and UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce to make their decisions after each visited USC.
Alstork is set to announce on Wednesday and has narrowed his choices to USC, Pitt, LSU and Illinois. He will be able to play immediately, wherever he goes.
Bryce is reportedly down to USC and N.C. State, but will have to sit out the 2017-18 season. His coach at UNCW, Kevin Keatts, is the Wolfpack’s new coach.
Each player would be on scholarship if they chose the Gamecocks, which would again place USC one over the limit.
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2017-18 USC men’s basketball roster
Jarrell Holliman, Sr. w/o
Ran Tut, Sr.
Kory Holden, Jr.
Hassani Gravett, Jr.
Chris Silva, Jr.
Rakym Felder, So.
Sedee Keita, So.
Maik Kotsar, So.
Khadim Gueye, So.
Tommy Corchiani, So., w/o
Evan Hinson, So., w/o
Christian Schmitt, So., w/o
Jason Cudd, Fr.
Ibrahim Doumbia, Fr.
Felipe Haase, Fr.
David Beatty, Fr.
Justin Minaya, Fr.
w/o Walk-on, doesn’t count toward 13-man scholarship limit