Who was the first team to beat Kentucky last season? If you said South Carolina, award yourself one imaginary point and hang it on your refrigerator. The Sports Bank’s 99 team college basketball preview in 99 days ranks the 72 power conference teams and top 27 mid-major programs. Click here if you missed teams #83-#99
By: David Kay
South Carolina Gamecocks (5th, 6-10 in SEC East, 15-16 overall)
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Damontre Harris (Fr)/Carlton Geathers (Fr)
PF: Sam Muldrow (Sr)/Johndre Jefferson (So)/R.J. Slawson (Fr)
SF: Lakeen Jackson (So)/Malik Cooke (Jr)
SG: Ramon Galloway (So)/Steve Spinella (So)/Brian Richardson (Fr)
PG: Bruce Ellington (Fr)/Eric Smith (Fr)
Gone: PG-Devin Downey, SF-Dominique Archie, SG-Brandis Raley-Ross, SF-Evaldas Baniulis, PG-Robert Wilder, PF-Mike Holmes (transfer-Coastal Carolina), F/C-Austin Steed (left team)
The Gamecocks will face the challenge of battling in a conference where the other five teams are legitimate NCAA Tournament caliber clubs. Add in the fact that they lose four of their top five scorers (though two of them combined to play in only 12 games) including conference scoring leader Devan Downey, and it figures to be a tough year for South Carolina.
The strength of this team will be the frontcourt where returning starters Sam Muldrow and Lakeem Jackson will be asked to provide some leadership. Nevada transfer Malik Cooke and athletic freshman Damonte Harris should immediately see significant minutes. Ramon Galloway will need to replace Downey’s ability to shoot the basketball while freshmen Bruce Ellington and Eric Smith will compete for playing time at the point.
With six freshmen and four sophomores, SC is a very young team. Playing in the SEC East with the likes of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida only makes the uphill climb even steeper. Darrin Horn will certainly have his work cut out for him this season, but seems to have the Gamecocks heading on the right track.
Player to Watch: Sam Muldrow, F/C
The 6-9 senior is a game-changer on the defensive end. He averaged 3.1 blocks per game last season in starting all 31 games. His offensive abilities are still rather limited to around the basket which is made evident by his 43% shooting from the field which is rather appalling for a post player. Muldrow must improve his all-around offensive game to go with his skills on D’ if the Gamecocks are to have any hope of staying out of the cellar of the SEC East.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 at Michigan State
11/27 vs. Western Kentucky
12/5 vs. Clemson
12/11 vs. Wofford
12/18 at Ohio State
1/1 vs. Boston College
Other 99 in 99’s:
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#89 Boston College
#93 Oregon State
#97. Iowa State