South Carolina busted onto the scene last year with an impressive run through their non-conference schedule. The early season success got the Gamecocks into a few top 25 polls, but the ease of their schedule also ended up being their downfall in the end as they were overlooked when the brackets for the NCAA Tournament were announced last March.
Frank Martin has learned his lesson from last season and the Gamecocks are slated to face off against a much tougher non-conference schedule this season. While South Carolina will most likely have less wins going into conference plays, they should be a better prepared team with a better resume in the end. Frank Martin has proven that he is one of the top coaches in the SEC, and I think this season will truly reveal that.
If South Carolina is going to remain as one of the top teams in the SEC this season, it needs to quickly replace its three starters that it lost from last season, especially veteran forward, Michael Carrera. Despite the pieces they lose, South Carolina could be one of the few teams in the SEC this season that looks very similar to last season.
PJ Dozier, a former 5-star recruit, should be able to fill in the shoes of Michael Carrera quite well and as a sophomore, Dozier will have ever more opportunity to surpass Carrera’s achievements. Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice will also return this season and have the responsibility of leading on and off the court as two of the main seniors this season. If these two can solidify the backcourt, they’ll make it easier for the newcomers to fill in the size down low after the graduation of 6’11” center Laimonas Chatkevicius and 6’7” forward Mindaugas Kacinas.
The front court is where the biggest questions lie for me on the Gamecocks. Frank Martin adds five players listed at 6’9” or taller including 4-star recruit, and top player in the state of South Carolina, Sedee Keita. South Carolina can certainly be a big team this season, but it will be up to Frank Martin to make sure each of the newcomers can contribute in meaningful ways.
While the record may not be as good as last year, I think this year’s South Carolina team can be a better team than last year and it will once again be due to Frank Martin’s abilities as a coach. If Dozier can step up, Keita can live up to his 4-star status, and Thornwell and Notice can lead from the back court, South Carolina will be a solid team at the top of the SEC standings all season long.
#2 Hassani Gravett, 6’1” G transfer from Pensacola State College
#4 Rakym Felder, 5’10” 3-star G from Lincoln HS
#12 Khadim Gueye, 7’0” 3-star F from Victory Rock Prep
#4 Breein Tyree, 6’2” 3-star G from St. Joseph HS
#12 Karlis Silins, 6’10” F recruit from Latvia
#14 Ran Tut, 6’9” F transfer from Monroe College
#21 Maik Kotsar, 6’10” 3-star F from Sunrise Christian Academy
#24 Sedee Keita, 6’9” 4-star F from 22ft Basketball Academy
#0 Sindarius Thornwell, 6’5” G - Leading returning scorer at 13.4 PPG and also had 4.8 RPG and 3.8 APG last season
#2 Hassani Gravett, 6’1” G - Averaged 16.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 3.8 APG in Junior College last season
#5 TeMarcus Blanton, 6’5” G - Former 4-star recruit that could see time in the starting lineup this season
#10 Duane Notice, 6’2” G - Contributed 10.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 2.3 APG in all 34 games last season
#15 PJ Dozier, 6’6” G - Former 5-star recruit and McDonald’s AA, averaged 6.7 PPG, 3 RPG, and 2.1 APG last season
#24 Sedee Keita, 6’9” F - 2nd best player in the state of Connecticut and the top player in South Carolina’s 2016 class
#30 Chris Silva, 6’9” F - Second leading returning rebounder with 4.5 RPG last season
2016-2017 Season Predictions
|vs Louisiana Tech||W|
|vs Holy Cross||W|
|vs South Carolina State||W|
|vs Florida International||W|
|vs Texas A&M||W|
|vs Ole Miss||W|
|@ Mississippi State||L|
|vs Mississippi State||W|
|@ Ole Miss||W|