When the South Carolina men’s basketball team enters the court this season, it will be the first time in a few years that the multi-year experience is displayed more on the court than near the edge.
This is truly the first season since the 2016-17 Finals campaign that the Gamecocks attacking court is open in terms of hierarchy. If you remember that season, it was the year after the All-SEC advance Michael Carrera left the program and Gamecocks had to rely on the second year student Chris silva and freshman Maik Kotsar while relying on the custody experience Sindarius Thornwell, PJ Dozier and Duane Notice.
For each of the last three seasons, there was a frontline player based in grenada and the opposing black teams would have to plan the game. With Kotsar leaving after taking over the reins of the All-SEC that Silva held as a junior and senior, it is time for a new striker to emerge in Columbia.
Assistant coach Gamecocks Chuck Martin says Gamecocks’ attacking court is indeterminate as the season approaches, but he doesn’t necessarily consider it a weakness.
“In the past, we could do this with one or two guys, with Chris and Maik,” said Martin. “This year we may have to do this on a committee basis, especially at the beginning. This applies to my thoughts on the depth (of this team). “
Alanzo Frink, a junior, played 54 games in two seasons, but had only 12 career starts. It is the most experienced attack option that Gamecocks have, but it was never the focal point of the painting game.
“Zo has really good hands and good footwork,” said Martin. “He has a very good knowledge of the game. His challenges in the past were to be in shape so that he could sustain two or three good possessions. In the past, he flashed and got tired or youth and inexperience took over. As a As a junior, I give him credit for working so hard to get into the best shape of his life and I think that now you are starting to see his talent: his hands, feet and decision making, I am excited by him and excited to have him. “
Frink is accompanied by second year students Wildens Leveque and Jalyn McCreary. Leveque started eight games a year ago and had an average 2.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.5 blocks in 9.8 minutes per contest. McCreary had brilliant points in 17 SEC games played off the bench, and overall, in 27 games played, he averaged 11.5 points, 4.1 points and 2.7 rebounds. At the start of the pre-season camp, the head coach Frank Martin highlighted McCreary when asked about an unknown player who is capable of becoming a known commodity by the end of the season.
Ja’Von Benson enters the room and is alone as the only freshman on the team, after another local signatory Patrick Iriel abruptly decided to leave the program at the beginning of the pre-season practices. Benson weighs 6-7 pounds and weighs 251 pounds. Frink and McCreary are 6-7. The height in the attacking court comes from Leveque, who is 6-11.
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“We have Alanzo, Wildens, Jalyn and Ja’Von Benson, size and depth to which you can do this collectively rather than just relying on Maik or Chris,” said Martin. “This has really been the case for the past two years. Most of the teams that played us tried to attack Chris, putting him in trouble and his thinking process was ‘If Chris is out of the game, we have a chance to win the game.’ Last year there was a lot of that with Maik. This year is a little bit different. We don’t have the experience we had in the past, but we have depth. “
Given wing depth – with junior redshirt Justin Minaya, junior Keyshawn Bryant and second year Trey Anderson – Gamecocks do not always need to play traditional fours and fives on the court simultaneously. The painting may be less established than in previous years, but the strength of the Gamecocks is on guard, the backbone of the team that flourished in March 2017.