Weight loss involving key players has been a storyline this offseason for college basketball teams, including in hoops hotbeds such as Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Crossing the border into South Carolina, that storyline appears as well. South Carolina PG Duane Notice's weight loss isn't as dramatic as UNC's Kennedy Meeks or NC State's BeeJay Anya but it hopes to have the same after effect: explosiveness.
Notice hopes the weight loss yields more explosive plays during his minutes while helping him explode onto the national scene as well. During the preseason he was asked how spending time on his fitness and in the weight room during the summer has helped him thus far, "I just lived in the weight room, just getting more accustomed to my body and just get to that form that I used to be in before I got here," Notice said. "Shedding a few more pounds has helped me be more explosive on the court and that's the biggest thing I wanted to do this summer. I'm just excited to show everybody what I can do this year." The amount of weight dropped varies according to which publication you look at but it looks like the sophomore dropped about 10 pounds this offseason, taking his playing weight from 221 pounds to 211.
There is no doubt some increased athleticism and stamina will help Notice's game, but where he really needs to improve is his decision-making. Notice basically ended his freshman season with a 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, with a ratio below that than that in SEC games. Notice ended 27% of his possessions last season with a turnover (defining a possession as one that ended with Duane Notice either taking a shot or committing a turnover).
Maybe Martin doesn't have Notice on the floor for his distributive skills this season, given the return of Ty Johnson. Maybe he's on the floor to score and penetrate on offense and be a bulldog on defense. That's fine, but the ball needs not be in his hands so often then. With a consistent dose of Johnson and Stroman in the rotation this year, that will be a possibility. Also, when you consider how often Sindarius Thornwell brought the ball up the court towards the end of last season, maybe Martin realized what he had in Notice. A player who's not a distributor, a player who gets in trouble if he's asked to run the offense, but a player who can play off the ball and who can be a disruptive, aggressive 2-way player, a luxury Martin loves. An off-the-ball guard who defends the other team's PG is the role best suited for Notice but it's up to Martin to get him situated in it.
The Canadian came on strong at the end of last year. In the sacred college basketball month of March, Notice averaged 14.0 points and 3.7 assists in three games at the SEC Tournament. His 23-point, 8-rebound, 3-assist performance in a SEC Tournament win vs. Auburn was one of the signature performances of the year for the Gamecocks. Martin keyed on that stretch when talking about Notice last month. Martin pointed out that Notice "grew as the year went on and played his best basketball of the season in the last three-to-four weeks, and he has continued to move in that direction."
Notice worked tirelessly this offseason to improve his strength, his speed, and his stamina. He ended his freshman season with momentum, continued to run with it in the weight room this summer and enters November with his coach, his teammates, and his momentum still fully behind him. He did his work to improve his game but it'll be up to Frank Martin to maximize Notice and put him in the right lineups for us to truly see the rewards.