The 2014 S.C. Pro-Am concluded its regular season Thursday night at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School with several current and future University of South Carolina players squaring off.
In the night's opening game four Gamecocks faced off against each other. Michael Carrera and Brian Steele's team competed against a team featuring Marcus Stroman and Mindaugas Kacinas. Carrera continued his string of strong play, giving an active, focused effort as he finished with 31 points and 8 rebounds. Carrera showed off an impressive improvement in his 3-point shooting, hitting six on the night.
When Carrera wasn't stroking it from the outside or driving the lane with acrobatic lay-ins (yes, you read that right), Brian Steele continued his nice run at the Pro-Am, contributing all over the court with 11 points and several hustle plays that kept possessions alive.
Against Carrera and Steele, Mindaugas Kacinas played a strong game, recording a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds while teammate Marcus Stroman had another impactful performance running the point en route to scoring 12 points and 7 assists.
Not to be outdone by Carrera, Sindarius Thornwell also hit the 30-point mark in the night's second contest. Playing alongside teammate Demetrius Henry, Thornwell scored 30 on the nose without the benefit of a 3-pointer. He dunked, he drove and hit fallaways, he broke opponents down off the dribble, he did whatever he felt like as he continued to expand his game and show why he could start for any team in the nation.
Not to be outdone by Kacinas, Henry also notched a double-double, scoring 18 points with 10 rebounds.
In the night's final game, TeMarcus Blanton and Reggie Theus Jr. faced the team featuring Justin McKie and Austin Constable. The 30-point bug must have caught McKie, because he also scored 30 on the nose thanks to five 3-pointers while Constable added a 3-pointer himself. If McKie can bring a smooth outside game to the court to go with a relentlessness on the floor, the work he's done in the offseason will have paid off for him.
On the other side of the court, Blanton scored 25 points, continuting his impressive run through the Pro-Am competing against players almost exclusively older and more experienced than he. A 6-5 wing, Blanton shows the quickness and ball-handling confidence of a guard, and it's not inconceivable to think he could possibly play the three as a hybrid, because he's equally effective creating space for himself draining jump shots as he is slashing through the lane.
Like Constable, Theus Jr. also hit a 3-pointer to finish with 3 points.
The Pro-Am playoffs begin Sunday at 2 p.m. when Carrera and Steele's team faces a team featuring Irmo/Clemson's Jordan Roper and former Gamecock Jhondre Jefferson. At 3:15, Duane Notice and Laimonas Chatkevicius' team faces a team featuring Clemson's Rod Hall and Austin Ajukwa and former Tiger Milton Jennings.
At 4:30 p.m., Thornwell and Henry's team faces Blanton and Theus Jr.'s team, while at 5:45 p.m. McKie and Constable's team - the league's No. 1 seed thanks in no small part to former Gamecock Carlos Powell - face Stroman and Kacinas' team.
All games are free and open to the public.