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July 14, 2014

Notice turning heads at Pro-Am

Duane Notice is a new man.

A year ago as a freshman, he was a late arrival to campus from Canada - not exactly a hoops hotbed - of whom very little was known, much less expected.

But with the injury to point guard Ty Johnson in January and decision of point guard Bruce Ellington to pursue an NFL career, suddenly the 2013-14 Gamecocks' depth at the point was thinner than Hulk Hogan's hairline.

Thrown into the unforgiving world of Southeastern Conference league play in a division that featured two of the teams in the Final Four, Notice expectedly struggled at times to play the point but along the way also demonstrated a tenacity and skill set that proved he belonged on the court. He set a career-high with 19 points against Texas A&M on Jan. 29 and scored 11 points against No. 1 Florida on March 4 en route to averaging a more-than-respectable 8.2 points per game.

Starting the season at around 230 pounds, though, took it's toll on the 6-foot-2 guard from Woodbridge, Ontario. The extra weight meant quicker fatigue, so after the season Notice got serious about re-shaping his body.

"I prepared myself for coming to school (this year)," said Notice, now a sophomore. "With the whole May-mester break we had, I got with a personal trainer, worked on my ball-handling, my shooting, worked on my conditioning and I lost a lot of weight so I can be quicker on defense and offense.

"I lost about 16 pounds. Last year at the beginning of the year I was about 230, then at the end of the season I was around 228. So me, (strength and conditioning) coach Scott (Greenawalt), coach Frank (Martin) and everybody got together to see what we can do. I went home, worked out a lot, came back and I was 214. So I've been at that weight now, 213, 214.

"It feels better. I'm quicker, I can handle the ball better, I can get to places on the court better, I can jump higher. I've been feeling agile."

The results on the court have been impressive. In his most-recent S.C. Pro-Am action Sunday, Notice went toe-to-toe against Sindarius Thornwell and his athleticism and fitness allowed him to lead his team to victory and drop a whopping 28 points along the way to Thornwell's 25. In two games he's averaging 20.5 points and eight assists per game to just two turnovers per contest.

Having played so much point guard last year despite being recruited as an off guard, Notice knows he's liable to play anywhere this coming season.

"Coach Frank, when I spoke to him over the summer I asked him exactly what he wanted from me and he wants me to do the same thing I did last year," Notice said. "Whether that's being a combo guard, being a two as we lost Brenton Williams or being a one so I can practice at both and get reps at both, the one and the two or the three. I don't know where he's going to put me, but I'm ready for any position.

"I'm very prepared because I watched a lot of game film. Every game we played, I have the game film at home. I just want to keep my poise and definitely work on my turnover to assist ratio this year and my shooting percentage."

In his 28-point effort, his shooting percentage was terrific - 9-of-12 (75 percent) from the floor, including 3-of-4 (75 percent) from 3-point range, and 7-of-9 (78 percent) from the line. Notice said the Pro-Am is just what the doctor ordered for his development.

"(The Pro-Am) helps me a lot," Notice said. "It's a great event because during the summer, nobody's at school. It's really boring. You do workouts every day, it's very routine and becomes very mundane.

"Getting to play in this league against the best players from here, not from here, who are older, maybe play pro, it feels good to get away from the guys playing pickup all the time."

The competition also helps his point guard skills and builds his confidence, Notice said.

"It feels good (playing point) to set everybody up and try to look for my big man Laimonas (Chatkevicius) and build that chemistry," Notice said. "I feel like being the (point guard), you kind of get to be in control. It's a lot of hard work, you have to pick up the ball at the 10-second line, you have to play a lot of defense, but that's the beauty of basketball."

Notice's overall goals, he said, are to do more, be more, lead more.

"This year I'm getting older and am able to be a leader on this team," Notice said. "Sindarius (Thornwell), everybody has to step up, and I feel like I'll step up and be more vocal this year.

"I've been working hard, we've all been working hard. We feel like we have a new attitude and that we've grown. Last year I felt like I was under too much pressure and was thrown into it. This year I'm going to take command."



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