Felder: Time for Buck to be a Gamecock
Commentary by Ted Felder
Buck Fredrick is leaving Georgia Tech and is currently deciding where to finish his college basketball career. No other location makes as much sense as Columbia...for both sides. Dave Odom has a golden opportunity to show his skeptics that he is serious about bringing USC alumni back into the "family." It is a very low-risk, high-return scenario for Odom. By reaching out to not only the son of a former Gamecock legend, but also a student-athlete that originally spurned Carolina specifically because of how that Gamecock legend was allegedly treated by the USC coach, how can he lose?
Several ridiculous lies and misconceptions exist about the Buck situation. First of all, no matter how convinced and blustery some are to the contrary, Buck's father, Zam Fredrick, did NOT try and use his son to land a job in Columbia. In fact, he will specifically address that myth in an upcoming interview with Gamecocks Illustrated. Zam always wanted Buck to attend Carolina whether he was a coach there or not. Zam's interest in a job in Columbia was known well before his son even entered high school in St. Matthews at Calhoun County. If anything, Buck's parents should be commended for specifically not letting their personal feelings and frustrations influence the student-athlete's decision. The bottom line is that anyone who believes otherwise is either trying to sound "informed" by touting an un-provable outrageous accusation or is not in touch with reality.
Even putting that hogwash aside, anyone with a brain stem would concede that Odom is not on firm ground long-term and needs to improve his standing. Granted, if all he wants to do is coast along and coach out the two remaining years on his contract, then none of this matters. However, if Odom is serious about repairing and building a real basketball program and all that comes with the task, it would be a tremendous gesture on his part.
Of course, it won't mean anything to certain folks at USC. When you factor in the splinter groups like those who just hate anything Odom does because they don't like him, out-of-state alumni that like to sit on the outside and sarcastically deride the alumni's feelings and the school's traditions, and the MENSA candidates that write for the state's major newspapers, you end up with a sizeable group of voices that think Zam should be told to go jump in a lake. These same folks would be the ones that find it laughable when someone suggests that one of a handful of former Gamecocks that are currently minority coaches in the Palmetto State might would make a great assistant under Odom and could help the school start moving within the AAU system.
Zam has done nothing but be a loyal supporter of his alma mater even though he has gotten repeatedly kicked in the teeth in response. There have been times when Zam was passed over for a job, and he never made a stink about it. Despite this ridiculous treatment that is the rule in Columbia, not the exception, the St. Matthews native has kept his garnet-colored glasses in tact. Even with some Gamecocks taking pleasure in Buck's struggles at Georgia Tech, Zam has always encouraged his son to consider Carolina both times he was contemplating a transfer.
It comes down to what you want from Carolina in terms of alumni outreach. You either believe the school has a responsibility to address the fractured relationships that exist with numerous former Gamecocks or you don't. The arguments against doing something include the old favorites like, "If they don't want to be here then to heck with them," and "Don't let the door hit them on the way out if they're not happy," and many others of that ilk. Hence the percentage of them that give the school the proverbial middle finger.
Zam hasn't done any of that. No. 20 has been true-blue to the school and is a walking role model for how we all wish former Gamecock stars could be. A two-time state champion as a player in St. Matthews, the nation's leading scorer in 1980, the dominant player in Europe for years as a pro, and now numerous state championships at Calhoun County High School leave him as a fine ambassador for USC.
His son may or may not turn into a great basketball player if given the right system and right position. That will play itself out on the court. Regardless, that court being the one at the Colonial Center just seems right for all involved.
Now is the time for the University to side with the family for a change. It's time for Buck Fredrick to be wearing a Gamecock uniform.
To contact Felder or view other articles he's written, click here.
Give GamecockCentral.com a try. Click here to take advantage of our 7-Day Free Trial and get IN-DEPTH COVERAGE of Gamecock baseball.