USC Men's Basketball

USC is on brink of getting a freshman back. What that means for Martin’s Gamecocks

If all goes to plan, Alanzo Frink will be in uniform Monday when South Carolina comes back from Thanksgiving break to host Wofford at Colonial Life Arena.

The Gamecocks are hopeful the freshman forward passes an upcoming strength test on his injured knee and is practicing Friday. That was the Tuesday word from USC coach Frank Martin.

So what’s it all mean? Frink is a listed 6-foot-6, 265-pounder from New Jersey who has yet to make his college debut. Carolina is 3-2 without him, including last weekend’s split with Providence and George Washington at the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Connecticut.

“What does he bring?” Martin said of Frink, repeating a reporter’s question. “He brings one strong you-know-what ... contact doesn’t faze him.”

Frink’s reputation as a space-eater, confirmed by Martin highlighting his backside, is important to Martin because he believes it can help the Gamecocks improve around the rim. USC lost the points in the paint battle against Providence as Chris Silva, Carolina’s All-SEC forward and a lane regular, sat the majority of the game with foul trouble.

“(Frink’s) going to score in the paint,” Martin said. “He had moments in practice before he hurt himself when he basically manhandled Chris physically. And Chris is a strong dude.”

Silva and Frink are products of the same Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey. Silva on Tuesday backed Martin’s claim about Frink’s preseason aggression.

“He’s competitive,” Silva said. “He’s not afraid of contact. Right away when he stepped on the court, he was competitive with me, try to bump me a little bit.

“He knows how to use his body and when he gets that ball down low, he’s not afraid of contact. He always goes strong.”

Frink averaged 13 points and eight rebounds as a senior in high school. After a spring commitment to USC, he spent the early summer representing the Dominican Republic at the FIBA under-18 Americas championships in Canada. His performance then gave way to ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla labeling Frink as a “steal” for the Gamecocks.

“He blew me away,” Fraschilla told The State. “He was the strongest player in the tournament, physically. He’s a handful.

“Very impressive. Strength, feel for the game, showed some maneuverability out on the perimeter. Obviously a little undersized at 6-6, 6-7, but I think it’s one of those kids you look at and go, ‘Damn, South Carolina might have gotten a steal here.’”

Frink picked the Gamecocks over strong pursuit from Patrick Ewing and Georgetown.

After Silva and Maik Kotsar, Martin has turned mostly to Felipe Haase for frontcourt depth through five games. Frink provides a different kind of option.

“He’s real physical,” said senior guard Hassani Gravett. “He’s not afraid of contact. So he’s willing to get in the paint and fight with other bigs. For some reason, the ball just always finds him off the glass. So I know he’ll come in and contribute to getting rebounds.”

South Carolina is seventh in the SEC in rebound margin.

When Frink got hurt, the Gamecocks had yet to install their defense. He might be slow Monday on that end, but “I think offensively he’ll help us right away. And he can really shoot the ball, too. I’m excited to get him back,” Martin said.

Next game

Who: Wofford at South Carolina

When: 7 p.m., Nov. 26

Where: Colonial Life Arena

TV: SEC Network-Plus (accessed via app)

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