South Carolina Basketball: Is Damontre Harris Due for a Break-Out Year?

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10: Damontre Harris #24 of the South Carolina Gamecocks attempts to block a shot by Terrance Henry #1 of the Ole Miss Rebels during the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome on March 10, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Of the many flaws of the 2010-2011 Gamecocks outfit, the lack of quality post play was probably the most significant. Sam Muldrow was an elite shot-blocker and an overall good player, but his offensive inconsistency and inability to lock down the defensive glass kept him from being the kind of elite big man a team needs to be a contender. Past Muldrow, the Gamecocks didn't have much in the way of solid post play.

One occasional bright spot, however, was Damontre Harris. A highly-recruited true freshman, Harris played sparingly in the early going but saw his minutes increase during the latter part of SEC play. A big catalyst in his enlarged role was the Gamecocks' upset of Florida, where he scored nine, nabbed four boards, and blocked five shots against seemingly higher-profile Gators talent. He also had a very nice game against Ole Miss in the Gamecocks' last win of the season. However, Harris wasn't always able to replicate these kinds of performances. Although an impressive athlete, his small frame and limited offensive repertoire made it difficult for him to have a bigger impact.

This year, Harris will need to be a more effective player. Without Muldrow, Harris will be expected to handle the all-important center position and will get many, many more touches. The good news for Gamecocks fans is that, if he fully recovers from the toe injury that is currently keeping him out of practice, Harris should be ready to take the next step this year. He's put on some muscle, weighing in at around 220 now after coming in at 200. Moreover, the coaching staff has surely been working on making him a more polished offensive player. That means that he'll no longer just be scoring off offensive boards. I look for Harris to have a very strong year, with numbers nearing an averaged double-double and very efficient offensive performances.

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