USC Men's Basketball

Frank Martin had ‘zero hope’ for Gravett. How that might help a current Gamecock

What Frank Martin said about South Carolina’s 2019 recruiting class

The University of South Carolina basketball team kicks off things in June with the arrival of recruits, Trae Hannibal, Tre Anderson and Wildens Leveque.
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The University of South Carolina basketball team kicks off things in June with the arrival of recruits, Trae Hannibal, Tre Anderson and Wildens Leveque.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say South Carolina basketball’s Frank Martin had given up on Hassani Gravett, but as the guard finished up his junior year and looked toward being a senior, let’s just say the coach didn’t have a lot of optimism.

“If you would have asked me at this time last year, full disclosure here, I had no hope that he’d have a good senior year,” Martin said in a radio interview with 107.5 The Game. “Zero.”

In that experience, he gained a little hope for another Gamecock who, to a degree, lost confidence in himself.

The numbers from Maik Kotsar’s third year with the Gamecocks were ugly to say the least. A 6-foot-11, 260-pound power forward, he connected on less than 44 percent of his 2-pointers. At times, he threw up lay-up after lay-up, finding none rolling down. He barely edged over 40 percent from the free-throw line, hitting three of his last 27 free throws in conference play.

Martin explained his rising senior center needs to get to a point where he’s mentally at peace.

“Maik is his own worst enemy,” Martin said. “He over-analyzes things, and he’s too concerned with, is he good enough? He needs to put all that in the rearview mirror. That’s what this offseason, we have to work really hard with him.”

He saw Gravett go through a similar offseason last year and reap the benefits. The combo guard was often out of control as a junior, capable of making big plays and then badly botching them a possession later.

Then as a senior, freed of point guard responsibilities, he turned into an efficient player, shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point range, bumping up his free throw percent by more than 10 points and cutting down on turnovers.

“I know the things that would hold him back,” Martin said. “He still fights some of those things because it’s who he’s been for so long. He finally allowed himself to accept direction and help. Allowed himself to become a better teammate. And all of a sudden, you become a better teammate, guys actually enjoy being around you and you feel better about things. And all of a sudden, you have success.”

The coach noted Gravett wasn’t the most diligent about getting extra shots up, and when he started doing that, it paid off.

He remembered a moment during a game where he prodded Gravett a bit about how far he’d come.

“I said, ‘Don’t it feel better?’” Martin said. “Don’t it feel better when you do right, that you actually play the game the right way? And he started laughing.”

Kotsar averaged 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds last year. He was a solid defender by most measures and he never fell from the rotation despite losing his starting spot.

And his coach had a simple prescription.

“He’s got to spend more time in the gym shooting the basketball,” Martin said “And as simple as that sounds, that’s how you get better.”