The South Carolina basketball team has landed an in-state recruit.
Trae Hannibal, a 6-foot-2 point guard from Hartsville, committed to the Gamecocks on Friday afternoon, giving Frank Martin’s program an important first member to its 2019 class.
Hannibal averaged 16.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists this past season for Hartsville High School, earning all-state honors. He chose USC over offers from Oklahoma State, Wofford and College of Charleston and interest from Virginia Tech, Kansas State and Wake Forest, among others.
Hannibal picked up a Carolina offer after visiting the campus on May 15.
"Whenever I got the (USC) offer, I low-key wanted to stay in state," Hannibal told The State shortly after his announcement. "Wofford and the College of Charleston were the only other (in-state) schools, so it kind of narrowed it down.
"South Carolina is a business school anyways, so that's what I'm going to major in. That helped narrow it down. The school of business, the playing style, everything just fits me."
Hannibal recently moved on the AAU circuit, joining TMP out of Charleston. TMP is headlined by fellow Gamecocks target Josiah James. Both Phenom Hoop Report and Big Shots rank James as the state’s top player and Hannibal fifth in the ’19 class.
James, a 6-foot-6 point guard rated, according to 247Sports, as the nation’s No. 14 player, has offers from the likes of Duke, Michigan State, Louisville and Virginia.
“I think he’s really underrated,” James said of Hannibal after an AAU game in April. “He’s a great kid. I think he’s one of the top point guards in the nation. And it’s really good playing with him, seeing how our games add up, because I played him when he was at Hartsville this season. He’s gotten a lot better since. I think I have, too.”
Hannibal is USC’s first in-state pledge since Myrtle Beach’s Jason Cudd in the ’17 class. The Carolina staff has long been after the athletic 200-pounder. Both Frank Martin and assistant Chuck Martin watched Hannibal dunk his way to 23 points against Nation Ford in December. Frank Martin was in Spartanburg on April 20 to watch Hannibal and James square off in the “Phenom Challenge.”
"It's going to be big-time," Hannibal said of his future with Martin. "He mentioned to me that I can be a great defender. He said once I finish growing and get used to playing a faster speed and getting my strength up, I'm going to be a great on-ball defender.
"Other than that, I'm just really aggressive. I like to attack and score."
Hartsville coach Yusuf English said Hannibal and Martin are an ideal match.
"Frank's teams, they like to get downhill, they play a fast style," English said. "When Trae decides to get to the basket, there's nothing that's going to stop him. His game fits that downhill style of play.
"The defensive side of the ball, he plays the passing lanes very well. That makes him a good help defender. He knows how to take charges. He does all the little things that I think Frank Martin loves."
Hannibal’s commitment, USC hopes, begins in-state momentum in a loaded ’19 class. The Gamecocks are recruiting James, Gray Collegiate’s Juwan Gary, Lower Richland’s Christian Brown and Ridge View’s Malcolm Wilson, among others.
South Carolina, of course, is still finishing efforts in the 2018 class. With Brian Bowen’s departure, the Gamecocks have three open scholarships. Major target D.J. Burns is reportedly announcing his decision Friday evening, but the Rock Hill power forward is considered a Tennessee lean. USC remains involved with Canadian wing A.J. Lawson, and North Carolina transfer Jalek Felton is expected to make a decision on his future soon.