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June 17, 2013

Carrera shines during Pro Am's first day

The first day of games for the S.C. Pro Am basketball league at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School began on Sunday, and it featured future, current and former South Carolina players. GamecockCentral.com was there, and will be there the entire league season, which runs two nights a week through July 28 (playoffs the first week of August), to bring you statistics and other news.

Scoring statistics for all current, future and former Gamecocks who played (as well as USC recruiting targets, although none of those played on Sunday). Note: As it was the first game and the newly arrived jerseys did not yet have numbers, only scoring totals were kept.

Current and incoming:
Michael Carrera: 31
Justin McKie: 15
Demetrius Henry: 15
Brenton Williams: 12
Jaylen Shaw: (played two games) 6, 9
Desmond Ringer: 4 (Note: He twisted his right ankle in the first quarter and did not return. The injury is a sprain, and he has a good amount of swelling. He will probably be out for at least the next couple of weeks)

Former players:
Brandon Wallace: 17
Zam Frederick: 16
R.J. Slawson: 12

Without a doubt, Michael Carrera was the best player in the building on Sunday, scoring his 31 points from inside as well as out, and he did it without a lot of the offensive putbacks he makes a specialty of, due to his not playing as aggressively as normal, given the exhibition-type nature of the league.

Justin McKie looked smooth and quick for a taller guard (6-foot-5), while his counterpart, Jaylen Shaw (6-1), appeared a bit sluggish at times, although late in the first game and early in the second he came alive to show a quickness and first step that generated space from the defender and allowed him to demonstrate his not-unpolished shooting skills. Still, it's going to be a tough task for him to man the point position by himself during the first part of the season, before Ty Johnson and Bruce Ellington return to the team in December/January. Shaw will be helped by Duane Notice in that regard, as well as Sindarius Thornwell, a two-guard who has played some at the point.

Brenton Williams did what he normally does - play quietly, explode for a few unstoppable minutes, then get back into the scenery. Another highlight was the play of Demetrius Henry. He showed a range of inside skills and moves that will serve him well against bulkier competition - he's a thin one, very similar in stature (6-9) to Brandon Wallace, and if there was a knock on his game on Sunday, it was that he wasn't very active on the boards, shying away from contact.

However, in this league, it appears as if the edict is to develop, but don't play too aggressively, especially inside. Several times, USC defenders got out of the way when a player would make a strong move or go for a strong rebound. There's definitely no use in getting anyone hurt, which happened when Ringer twisted his ankle on a slippery floor.

In other notes, the aforementioned Ellington was one of a few USC football players to show up, including Victor Hampton and Sharrod Golightly. Recently graduated women's star Ashley Bruner was there as well.

League play resumes at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. For a schedule and rosters, visit http://www.scproam.com.

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