Martin: Tre-Vaughn Minott giving South Carolina Gamecocks men's basketball presence at rim
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Martin: Minott giving Gamecocks presence at rim

Tre-Vaughn Minott’s arrival in Columbia was anything but ordinary.

Not only was he a mid-year enrollee for the basketball team, taking up the lone available scholarship, he came in during a pandemic and couldn’t practice for almost a week after arriving.

When Minott got on campus in early January, he and the rest of the team was put on the third separate COVID pause, halting any progress he would be able to make early in his collegiate career.

But, two months now into his freshman year, Minott is beginning to make his impact.

Courtesy South Carolina athletics
Courtesy South Carolina athletics

“From day one it was obvious he’s got an understanding of how to play underneath the basket,” Frank Martin said. “It was obvious from day one there’s a comfort level for him playing with his back to the basket. We needed that.”

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Minott reclassified to the 2021 class and committed to South Carolina just before the spring semester, after spending most of the year at home not able to play consistent organized basketball.

Much like every freshman, there was an adjustment period, but on top of that for Minott getting in shape was a priority.

It didn’t help also when he arrived Martin was still dealing with his second bout of COVID and assistant Chuck Martin, who works with the big men, was also isolated after testing positive as well.

“The problem was he had been home for 10 months in Montreal. He wasn’t in great shape. Then he got here January 5 or something like that and we got shut down. He didn’t practice until the 17th of January,” Martin said. “Then I was a lost cause the first 10 practices cause I was trying to get my energy and health right. I couldn’t help him. Then Chuck wasn’t around, and Chuck’s the one who works with the bigs. He was just like me trying to regain everything.”

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But now it seems Minott is chiseling out a role. After playing sparingly in SEC play, Minott earned his first-career start against Georgia.

He scored six points on 3-for-4 shooting with three rebounds and a block in 10 minutes as part of a 91-70 with Frank Martin pleased with the presence he gave the Gamecocks at the rim.

“It wasn’t just about catching the ball in the low post. He grabbed three defensive rebounds early in the game to create a presence on the glass,” Martin said. “One time he got beat and recovered and blocked the shot. That’s something we’ve been lacking, that rim protection defensively.”

Minott isn’t a finished product, but he showed Saturday why the Gamecocks (6-12, 4-10 SEC) brought him in mid-year.

Now he just needs to continue to get in shape so South Carolina can do more with him on the court.

“His challenge is continue to get in better shape so he can sustain effort. I can’t play zone every single second he’s in there,” Martin said. “His ball screen coverage—he has really good footwork—but has to learn how to get in a stance and play tall. Those are the challenges with him. The pluses are the other things we talked about.”

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It’s unclear if Minott will start Tuesday night against Arkansas (6:30 p.m., SEC Network) but he and the rest of the team are feeling better after snapping the six-game skid before facing the No. 12 Razorbacks.

“Our guys spirits are good. My spirits are good. I haven’t felt this good in a long time. I know we’re excited for practice today. Yesterday they were real good. I’m excited for practice today,” Martin said Monday.

“The one thing I preach to the players cause it’s what I believe cause it’s what’s life’s taught me: let’s just stick together in this one. Let’s hold on, let’s stick together and at the end of the day every one of us will be better cause we went through this chapter.”