By the time South Carolina began basketball practice this season, the Gamecocks had a point guard committed in Trae Hannibal and were on their way to signing an athletic big man in Wildens Leveque. Both checked off crucial positions of need for Frank Martin in the 2019 class.
But the USC coach still had another scholarship to use and started to evaluate his current team with an eye toward the future. His youngest players were long and skilled, but they weren’t as strong in one crucial area.
“I started saying we need size that can really shoot the basketball,” Martin said.
Enter Trey Anderson, a 6-foot-7 guard from California who signed with the Gamecocks on Nov. 21.
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“He’s a competitor and he’s got length,” Martin said Monday. “He’s taller than Justin (Minaya) and Keyshawn (Bryant) and all those guys. He can really, really shoot the basketball. And he shoots it on the move, which is the other thing I really liked.”
According to MaxPreps, Anderson, as a senior at Mater Dei High School outside San Diego, shot 35 percent from 3-point range, 50 percent from 2 and 81 percent from the free throw line.
Among those with 10 or more attempts, only senior Hassani Gravett is shooting over 35 percent from 3 on this year’s USC team.
“Keyshawn, I think you’ve seen it in person, there’s some unbelievable ability there, but jumping up and shooting 3s is his not his thing,” Martin said. “Justin, he’s going to make 3s for us as he continues to grow as a player and once he becomes a junior, we need that freshman right behind him coming next. T.J.’s (Moss) going to make 3s for us, A.J. (Lawson) can make 3s for us.
“So the one thing we didn’t have was a guy that was a shooter at that (wing) spot.”
Ryan Silver, who coached Anderson on the AAU circuit, describes Anderson as a “pure shooter.”
“He can really shoot the ball,” Silver told The State. “He’s a pure shooter. We played some great games this year. We played DC Assault, which is one of the best teams in the country, and he had seven 3s. He can really shoot the ball.”
Anderson is playing this season for Woodstock Academy’s post-graduate team in Connecticut.
“He’s got a plus-wing span, he shoots the lights out, he’s athletic,” said Woodstock coach Tony Bergeron. “He plays defense, he can pass. He doesn’t have any gaps.”
Under Martin, the Gamecocks have only finished once — 52nd in 2013-14 — among the top 100 nationally in 3-point shooting percentage.
“That’s not all I do,” Anderson said, “but that’s one of the things I definitely say I am. I’m definitely a shooter. I can shoot deep, mid-range, all that. I just try to knock down the shots.”