Several of the top junior high school basketball players in the state played in the SC Junior Showcase at Heathwood Hall on Saturday.
But before they took the court at Heathwood, Dorman’s P.J. Hall and Myles Tate, Keenan’s Dillon Jones and Raekwon Horton, Lakewood’s Quentin Hodge and Heathwood Hall’s Isaiah Caldwell took in South Carolina’s 66-46 win against Georgia earlier in the day at Colonial Life Arena.
“It was a good visit,” said Jones, who recently picked up an offer from Charlotte and also is hearing from Florida Gulf Coast and Tulsa. “We got to see coach (Frank) Martin get up in players’ faces and see his intensity. You got to love that.”
“Going back in the locker room and hearing what coach Frank Martin had to say to players after the game was the biggest things for me,” Caldwell said. “I loved how he told them how much he loved them and cared about them.”
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Of those attending the USC game, Hall, Tate and Jones all have been offered by South Carolina and just led their teams to state titles in the past week. Hall and Tate helped Dorman to its third consecutive Class 5A title, topping Berkeley on March 1.
Hall is the top-ranked junior in the state for the class of 2020. He visited with assistant coach Bruce Shingler before the game and hung after for a bit before getting to Heathwood for the Showcase.
“It was a fun visit,” said Hall, who had eight points and 10 rebounds in the showcase. “South Carolina got out early, then got cold and had some turnovers but they finished up strong. It was a good win.”
Hall still hears from Clemson a lot and Tigers coach Brad Brownell and assistant coach Steve Smith were there to watch him play in the state title game. Tennessee and Florida also are in the mix.
The 6-foot-9 forward will begin his AAU season soon with the Upward Stars and is playing baseball for Dorman. He pitches and plays infield for the defending state baseball champions.
Hall plans to set up his official visits for spring or summer and possibly make his decision before his senior season begins.
“I definitely am looking for a school with a family environment and want to have a coach that is strict, a father figure and someone who is there to make us men and mold me into the basketball player that I want to be,” Hall said previously.
Hodge and Horton are yet to be offered by South Carolina but both are hearing from the Gamecocks a lot more. Hodge won MVP honors in the Junior Showcase after his 23-point performance in which he was 8-of-12 from the field.
Hodge also is hearing from Iowa State, Kansas State and Murray State. He will play this summer on the AAU circuit with the Georgia Stars.
“I got there about 9:30 a.m. and met with (assistant coach) Bruce Shingler. He made me feel right at home,” Hodge said. “They see me playing point guard or shooting guard and run the offense.”
Ridge View junior forward Ja’Von Benson didn’t attend USC’s game Saturday but is hearing from USC assistant coach Chuck Martin. Benson scored 18 points and had nine rebounds in Saturday’s Showcase. He averaged 10 points and 8.7 rebounds for the Class 4A champions.
Benson also has interest from Wofford, Winthrop, UNC Asheville, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. He plans on visiting South Carolina soon and will play this summer for Carolina Wolves or Upward Stars.
“It’s right around the corner so I definitely plan to visit,” Benson said. “They told me to keep working and they like my skillset and that I definitely could play ball on the Division I level.”