Frank Martin breaks down what he likes about newcomers, returnees
South Carolina basketball on Friday released all kinds of numbers. Jersey numbers, heights, weights.
The 2019-20 season is five months from tipping off, but you now know incoming freshman guard Trae Hannibal is 6-foot-1, 217 pounds and will be wearing No. 12, Tennessee Tech graduate transfer forward Micaiah Henry is 6-9, 235 and will be wearing No. 13 and Keyshawn Bryant will keep No. 24, but the 6-6 swingman is up to 197 pounds.
The latter — a gain of six pounds from Bryant’s freshman season — perhaps gives another clue to what the Gamecocks might look like next year.
Frank Martin this offseason has long hinted at a style tweak in the immediate post-Chris Silva era. The USC coach has plenty of guard depth, but lacks a proven post who can be an offensive centerpiece. His roster — chock-full of long athletes — has potential for a variety of lineups. Asked this week on SportsTalkSC about his forward options, Martin said a slight role change is possible for Bryant.
“I can see us sometimes either playing Justin Minaya or maybe even Keyshawn Bryant at the 4 (power forward),” Martin said. “It’s something that’s fun, it’s something that’s a different wrinkle that we have with this team coming up.”
Bryant, in Minaya’s absence, was Carolina’s primary 3-man, a wing player last year who would move to the 4 when Martin put Tre Campbell (point guard), Hassani Gravett (shooting guard), A.J. Lawson (wing), Bryant and Silva (center) on the floor together. Adding strength to Bryant’s skinny frame could allow the Florida native to stay there longer as a sophomore.
“If I play someone like that at the 4,” Martin said Thursday, “then I’m not going to play them like I would play Chris at the 4 when he used to play with Sedee Keita or someone like that at the 5. Or Maik Kotsar at the 4 with Chris at the 5.
“It changes offensively. Defensively, if you’re playing a team that plays big, you have to make sure that that individual is strong enough and aggressive enough to defend a big.”
USC under Martin has gone small before. During the 2017 Final Four run, he’d occasionally put the 6-5 Sindarius Thornwell at the 4 and surround him with guards Rakym Felder and Duane Notice and wing P.J. Dozier.
“We have a basis of how we’re gonna play and who we are,” Martin said. “We’re not changing from that, but we have to constantly move things around to take advantage of the talents of each team. And next year’s team is going to be possibly the most unique team I’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Gains and losses
The 6-5, 215-pound Minaya is USC’s lone returning player to remain the same size.
Others who have gained weight: Lawson (172 to 178 pounds), TJ Moss (193 to 195), Jermaine Couisnard (202 to 211), Nathan Nelson (174 to 189), Kotsar (264 to 270) and Jair Bolden (210 to 215).
Sophomore big man Alanzo Frank has dropped from 265 to 260.
Newcomers and numbers
No returning player has changed jersey numbers.
The newcomers look like this:
No. 2 Trey Anderson (6-5, 203)
No. 4 Jalyn McCreary (6-7, 225)
No. 12 Trae Hannibal (6-1, 217)
No. 13 Micaiah Henry (6-9, 235)
No. 15 Wildens Leveque (6-10, 230)
No. 23 Mike Green (6-1, 188)
No. 25 Seventh Woods (6-1, 189)