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June 16, 2013

SC Pro Am features many USC freshmen



South Carolina fans don't have to wait to see the newest faces of Gamecock basketball. Most of them, including five of the seven freshmen and six of the eight newcomers, will be in action today and throughout the first week of August.

The South Carolina College Pro Am Summer League, a series of pickup games showcasing Southeastern college and high school stars, plus some professional players who have spent time in the same environs, begins today. The bumper crop of freshmen that Frank Martin signed, plus some of his returnees, is signed up to play in the event that is the brainchild of former USC player Carey Rich.

Ten teams featuring USC alums and present USC players, among several others from around the Southeast, will be in action every Thursday and Sunday at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School with four games per day. It's a chance for players to get summer competition against other college or pro players, and a chance for some of the high school players that are also taking part to get a taste of what it will be like on the next level.

Incoming freshmen Sindarius Thornwell, Demetrius Henry, Jaylen Shaw, Justin McKie and Desmond Ringer, plus transfer Tyrone Johnson, are each on teams for the Pro Am. They join returning players Michael Carrera and Brenton Williams on the exhibition roster, Carrera after he was cleared to participate after being shut down since the season ended due to a chronic hip injury.

The only players that won't be playing in the Pro Am are Mindaugas Kacinas and Laimonas Chatkevicius (each trying out for the Lithuanian national team), freshmen Duane Notice (Canadian national team) and Reggie Theus Jr. (will enroll in school for the Summer II session), Carlton Geathers (still nursing a severe knee injury) and Bruce Ellington (football training). The rest will be there, rubbing shoulders with some future teammates, some could-have-been teammates and some players that were around for USC's best seasons.

Former Gamecocks Devan Downey, Carlos Powell, Malik Cooke, Dominique Archie, Brandon Wallace, Rolando Howell, Sam Muldrow, Zam Fredrick and Johndre Jefferson are also set to play. Eric Smith and R.J. Slawson, each a part of USC's team last year before transferring for their senior years, will also be part of the Pro Am.

A select number of high school players will also participate, some who have significant interest from USC. Commitment Marcus Stroman will play, as well as targets L.J. Peak, Seventh Woods and P.J. Dozier.

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