South Carolina Gamecocks Basketball: What the Program Needs to Do to Earn an NCAA Berth in 2011

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10: A South Carolina Gamecocks cheerleader performs 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)

Now that the Gamecocks' basketball season is likely over (I'm not sure if a CBI invite is on the table or not or if we would take it if so, hence the "maybe"), we can begin discussing what the program needs to do during the offseason.

Recruiting. Currently, Carolina has signed the two players it can afford to take in this class, PF Anthony Gill and SG Damien Leonard. Both are a very solid prospects who play at positions of need for Carolina. Gill should in time become the kind of PF we lacked on this year's team, while Leonard should eventually be a step up from what Ramon Galloway provided this year. We will also bring in transfer Murphy Holloway, who should step in and immediately become one of our top post players. Together, Gill and Holloway should make a huge difference for our front line. If there's any attrition and we end up being able to take another player, I'd like to see us make a play at another shooting guard. I don't have much faith in Richardson or Galloway ever being major difference-makers for us.

Development of post players. Both Damontre Harris and R.J. Slawson showed promise this year, and both have the potential to be very solid SEC players in the future. However, both need to spend some serious time in the weight room over the summer, and they need to work on expanding their offensive games with their backs to the basket. I'd also really like to see Carlton Geathers get more involved. With a body like this guy has, there has to be some way he can contribute if we're preparing him correctly.

Development of Bruce Ellington. I have a feeling that we're going to see Ellington play a similar role in our offense next year. Will he be more ready? The coaching staff needs to spend a lot of time with Ellington on training him to have a better sense of when he should shoot the ball, when he should drive, and when he should look to distribute. In addition to just being in a shooting slump, which should solve itself as he gets healthy, Ellington's main problem is decision-making. It's our coaches' job to work with him on these things. As far as Eric Smith goes, I like the kid, but I have a feeling that his ceiling is relatively low. Ellington's is higher, but the question is, can he reach it?

I'll soon have a post on how likely I think it is that we make the NCAAs next year.

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