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August 1, 2012
While July is considered an off month for college athletics, basketball coaches across the country put the full court press on recruiting efforts the past three to four weeks. Frank Martin and the Gamecock assistant coaches racked up their fair share of air miles and rental car fees traveling between tournaments to evaluate prospects for the upcoming recruiting classes.
The reception Coach Martin received on the AAU circuit this summer was definitely worth noting. There is no doubt that Martin is respected by his fellow peers. Head coaches and assistants from all different levels of college basketball seemed to go out of their way to shake Martin's hand and congratulate him on his new gig at USC. When Martin entered the gym to watch a game, everyone seemed to take note. He's yet to coach in a single game at South Carolina, but his presence is already being felt in a major way.
In May we brought you the latest basketball recruiting hot board that featured nine prospects from the 2013 class on USC's radar. The Gamecock staff made an effort to see nearly all of these prospects (minus Kris Jenkins who is injured) in action this past month along with a few other targets like Oak Hill Academy wing Troy Williams.
Currently, it appears that Sindarius Thornwell, Troy Williams, Kris Jenkins, Demetrius Henry, and Antravious Simmons are some of the targets at the top of the Gamecock's board and could all be visitors on campus in the fall.
More on Kris Jenkins:
I caught up recently with someone very close to the recruitment of Washington (D.C.) forward Kris Jenkins. The versatile forward has been on the shelf this summer after having surgery on his finger. Jenkins is a very unique talent. He's 6-foot-5 and a half and weighs upwards of 245 pounds. He can play multiple positions and is skilled inside and outside. Jenkins goes to high school at Gonzaga Preparatory in the D.C. area but his family lives near Columbia. His mother is actually the head women's coach at Benedict College. Jenkins plans to sit down with those close to him soon and map out some visits for the fall. He is tentatively planning a November decision. South Carolina, Clemson, Rutgers, Xavier, Miami, Boston College, and Villanova are the schools I was told are showing the most interest. This one will be interesting to follow from the Gamecocks' perspective and will likely depend on how many scholarships are available. The staff does not have the numbers to take Thornwell, Williams, and Jenkins. However, all three could likely visit in the next couple months and I'll have a better feel for their interest level after those visits take place. Until then, it appears the Gamecocks are in the middle of about eight schools in the running for Jenkins.
Big month for Stroman
At the beginning of July, South Carolina received a commitment from point guard Marcus Stroman of Keenan High School in Columbia. The commitment was just the beginning of what turned out to be a strong month for the 2014 standout. Stroman was the floor general for one of the most impressive AAU teams in the South (Southern Stampede). He teamed up with several other highly rated prospects from Georgia to finish second overall in the 16's division at the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta and this past weekend the Stampede won the inaugural Power 24 event in Atlanta. At Peach Jam, Stroman hit a game winning lay-up as time expired right underneath the basket where Frank Martin sat. There was a series of plays at the end of the game where Stroman took things in his own hands and showed his future coach that he has the ability to take over when it matters most.
Top talent in Palmetto State
The basketball talent in South Carolina is definitely high right now with college coaches and recruiting analysts from all around the country taking notice. There are nationally ranked players such as Lancaster native Sindarius Thornwell from the 2013 class and Gaffney's L.J. Peak from 2014. These two have been familiar names for quite some time for those who follow basketball around the state. Thornwell will enroll next month at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia to finish out his prep career. It was thought that Thornwell was going to narrow his list of schools around the middle of July but that has yet to happen. South Carolina and Clemson are recruiting him the hardest. The USC coaches were present for most, if not all of his games in the month of July. FSU, Georgetown, and Ohio State are some of the schools outside of the state to keep an eye on.
As for Peak, his AAU coach recently told me that South Carolina, Clemson, and Ohio State were the three schools recruiting him the hardest. Peak had a great ending to the month of July after he recovered from an injury that held him back in the spring.
Another prospect who has started receiving national attention is class of 2015 point guard P.J. Dozier from Spring Valley High in Columbia. We recently profiled Dozier in a feature where he discusses his interest in South Carolina. Dozier has the tools and the high basketball IQ to develop into one of the better guards in the southeast for his class.
Aside from the nationally-regarded prospects, there are a number of high school basketball players in the state from the 2013 class that should find themselves on mid to high-level college rosters in the coming years. Some of the more impressive rising seniors that caught my eye in July were Austin Ajukwa (Cardinal Newman), Tashombe Riley (Orangeburg-Wilkinson), Matt Howard (AC Flora), Jaylen Shaw (Hartsville), Jaylen Reid (Rock Hill), Justin McKie (Irmo), and Davaris McGowens (Eastside).
Lastly, there is not any new information to report on 2012 target Michael Carrera different from our most recent update except that we are hearing he is close to making a final decision. He should be releasing something within the next week or so.
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