South Carolina basketball’s newcomer total for coach Frank Martin’s second season is up to eight, including seven freshmen. The Gamecocks on Wednesday landed Demetrius Henry, a 6-9, 210-pound center from Faith Baptist Christian School in Brandon, Fla., near Tampa.
Henry, who signed with USC over Miami, is the No. 17 center and No. 100 overall recruit in the Class of 2013, according to Rivals. He is USC’s second top 100 recruit in this class, along with No. 43 Sindarius Thornwell, who is rated as the No. 11 shooting guard.
Henry’s decision came a day after the Gamecocks failed to land Darryl Reynolds, a 6-8, 220-pound power forward who chose Villanova. Reynolds was not rated at his position by Rivals. In addition to USC and Villanova, he had scholarship offers from Seton Hall, Charlotte, Utah and St. Bonaventure.
At least based on the rankings, Henry has a higher profile than Reynolds. His other scholarship offers were from South Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Houston, Illinois, Kansas State, Missouri, Rutgers, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
So where does Henry’s decision leave the Gamecocks for next season?
Here’s a look at their newcomers for 2013-14 …
PG Tyrone Johnson (6-3, 185)* — No. 52 overall, No. 11 at position (out of high school)
PG Jaylen Shaw (6-1, 175)
PG Duane Notice (6-2, 195) — No. 35 at position
SG Sindarius Thornwell (6-5, 180) — No. 43 overall, No. 11 at position
SG Justin McKie (6-3, 175)
SF Reggie Theus Jr. (6-6, 180)
C Desmond Ringer (6-9, 260)
C Demetrius Henry (6-9, 210) — No. 100 overall, No. 17 at position
*Will be eligible after first semester as redshirt sophomore
Here is a look at the classes of USC’s players who are eligible to return …
Sophomores: Michael Carrera, Mindaugas Kacinas, Laimonas Chatkevicius
Juniors: Damien Leonard, Carlton Geathers
Seniors: Bruce Ellington, Brian Richardson, RJ Slawson, Eric Smith, Brenton Williams
Remember, Ellington doesn’t count as a basketball scholarship because he is on football scholarship. So the other players account for nine scholarships. The addition of Johnson during the middle of last season puts that number at 10. The November signings of Thornwell, Ringer and McKie moves the number to 13 – the maximum allowed by the NCAA.
The addition this spring of Henry, Shaw, Notice and Theus Jr. means that USC must have four returning scholarship players leave the team with eligibility remaining, to free up scholarships.
Carrera and Williams had productive seasons in 2012-13, so it’s hard to imagine them going anywhere. Kacinas and Chatkevicius were Martin’s recruits, so it is difficult to envision them leaving. So, probably, between Leonard, Geathers, Richardson, Slawson and Smith, four players will depart with eligibility remaining.
This should all sort itself out pretty soon, but the bottom line is, Martin’s team will look a whole lot different in his second season than it did during his first. He has openly discussed the pitfalls of having to rely on freshmen, but it looks like at least some of these freshmen will get significant action next season, when the Gamecocks will try to avoid having their fifth straight losing overall record.
That has happened just once in the history of the program, from 1918-19 to 1922-23 (4-7, 7-11, 7-11, 7-12, 6-13). USC did improve in Martin’s first year – to 14-18, from 10-21 in Darrin Horn’s final season. The Gamecocks went 4-14 against the Southeastern Conference, compared to 2-14 the previous season.