A local big man is the first member of South Carolina’s 2020 recruiting class.
Patrick Iriel, a listed 6-foot-10, 225-pound center from A.C. Flora High School, has committed to the Gamecocks. Iriel was also offered by the likes of Georgia Tech, Butler, Southern Cal and Cincinnati.
USC coaches saw a lot of Iriel during the spring and summer as he ran on the same AAU team (Upward Stars Southeast) with Gamecock targets Myles Tate, P.J. Hall and Ja’Von Benson. While Tate has committed to Butler and Hall doesn’t have the Gamecocks among his final five, Benson (Ridge View) is taking an official visit to USC next month and Iriel will be a Gamecock next year.
“I think they really believe in me as a player,” Iriel said of Frank Martin and the Gamecock staff. “And I think the way that Frank and the staff coaches will help me achieve my goals.
“Also, (USC) is literally five minutes away from my house. All my family can come see me. And I just think it’s the best place for me to be the best person — on and off the court — that I can be.”
The 2020-21 Carolina roster is poised to include a good bit of in-state flavor with Iriel, Trae Hannibal (Hartsville), Seventh Woods (Hammond), Jalyn McCreary (Greenville Legacy Charter) and walk-on Mike Green (Myrtle Beach Christian Academy).
Iriel, ranked by 247Sports as SC’s best fourth-best prospect, averaged 13 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks last season for AC Flora.
“Their main pitch was ‘You’re a hard player and we go hard for our guys, so we’ll work out well for each other,’” Iriel said of the recruitment strategy by Martin and the Gamecock staff. “Frank was basically saying, ‘The only problems I have with my guys are when they don’t go hard, and you have a great motor, so we’ll get along great.’”
A.C. Flora coach Joshua Staley thinks Iriel is just scratching the surface with his potential and sees him playing both power forward and center in college. He also raved about Iriel’s work ethic and constant need to be in the gym to work on his game.
“He got to this point from his work ethic,” Staley said. “I think his ceiling is nowhere near what he wants to be. His motor works really hard. He keeps the bad emotions out of the game. You never know when he is struggling. He plays with a high motor and is a gym rat.”
Iriel’s pledge combined with Woods, a North Carolina transfer, becoming a scholarship player next year technically means USC is at its 13-scholarship max for 2020-21. However, that could change with transfers and the possibility of A.J Lawson’s early entry to the NBA Draft.