Key Departures: AJ Lawson (NBA); Justin Minaya (–>Providence); Trae Hannibal (–>Murray St); Seventh Woods (–>Morgan St); Jalyn McCreary (–>USF); TJ Moss (–>McNeese); Alanzo Frink (–>ECU)
New In Town: Erik Stevenson (<–Wash); AJ Wilson (<–G. Mason); James Reese (<–N. Texas); Josh Gray (<–LSU); Chico Carter (<–Murray); Devin Carter (#85); Jacobi Wright (#128); TaQuan Woodley (#255); Carlous Williams (#314)
State of the Program:
Frank Martin is one of my all-time favorite humans that I’ve never met, however, objectively speaking his time at S. Carolina has taken a turn for the worse since the magical run to the Final Four in 2017. The program was building, with a strong showing in 2016 as well, but the years following have seen slow and steady regression just when it looked like he had gotten over the hump. The current roster does not have a lot of promise either, and last season was the worst of the 9 seasons under Martin. He typically relies on a staunch defense and a fast paced offense that attempts to avoid playing in the half court. Last season they were 3rd in adjusted tempo but 113th defensively. Typically, defense is about culture, effort and having the buy in from the guys in the locker room, so in year 9 to turn in that poor of a performance is worrisome. The good news for Martin is he gets 3 starters back in Keyshawn Bryant (SR), Jermaine Couisnard (JR), and Wildens Leveque (JR). The bad news is beyond those 3 there was a mass exodus out of the program, forcing Martin to turn to the transfer portal and hope he can create cohesion with a hodge podge of transfers and Freshmen.
The leading transfer coming in is likely Erik Stevenson (SR) who will join his 3rd team in 4 years after going from Wichita St to Washington. He’s a 6’4” G who has been fairly productive over 94 games and 55 starts in his career. He is best on the attack, as his jump shot has not found any consistency in his 3 seasons. He has a shot to start in the backcourt for Martin. Also incoming is Murray St transfer G Chico Carter Jr (JR), who elevated himself a season ago, averaging almost 13 ppg on 44% shooting from deep. His shooting ability will surely get him some minutes, and despite his smaller stature he’s an effective defender, something Martin values. 6’4” G James Reese (SR) also enters the program after starting all 59 games for N. Texas, and playing a key role for N. Texas’ upset of Purdue in last season’s tourney. He can score at all 3 levels and comes from a very good defensive program so he will have a shot at starting in the backcourt as well. 7-footer Josh Gray (SO) comes over from LSU hoping to provide some depth inside for the Gamecocks. He is a project but a good athlete that came in as the 205th ranked recruit last season, and will look to develop in Martin’s system. 6’7” F AJ Wilson (SR) is the final transfer out of George Mason, and will provide depth at the 3 and 4 spots. He hasn’t developed a consistent jumper to this point but is a good rebounder and plays well in transition. The best of the Freshmen incoming is G Devin Carter (#85), who comes in as a gifted scorer off the bounce, as he uses his body well to create separation and get to his spots. He’s not an explosive athlete but is good enough to give him the potential to develop into a star. His jumper has a bit of a hitch to it but could develop into a serious weapon, and he should build into an important role this season. Next up G Jacobi Wright (#128) who is an undersized off-guard but is able to use his quickness to create room to get his shot off, which is his true weapon. He has the potential to be an elite scorer, but will really need to develop as a lead guard if he really wants to take advantage of his potential. The last two freshman TaQuan Woodley (#255) and Carlous Williams (#314) both look like they could be members of the football team’s front 7, and will likely need time to trim up and get quicker. They are big strong kids though, and Martin will have a chance to develop them into productive players.
There’s not a lot of proven excellence on this roster which puts expectations near the floor for this program. Martin will face a challenge similar to when he took over the program, as the roster turnover has the program in a state of chaos that is becoming more commonplace with the new transfer rules. They may get beat up this year, but there is some promise with a couple of these freshman to develop into really good players and they could build into a much better showing in ’21-22. Gamecock fans will not enjoy this year to put it frankly, but they could at least avoid the cellar with the return of Bryant and Couisnard. Best case scenario some strides are made and Martin is able to retain most of these guys for a much better season a year from now.