Every summer, former South Carolina Gamecock basketball star Carey Rich puts on the SC Pro Am League. It gives players from the South Carolina area, both pro and college, the chance to showcase their abilities against some of the best basketball players the state of South Carolina has to offer. This year, in the title game, three South Carolina Gamecocks found themselves in the championship round. I had the opportunity to check out Sindarius Thornwell, PJ Dozier, and incoming 7'1'' center Khadim Gueye.
Here are some observations I have from yesterday about all three Gamecocks.
I thought Sindarius played very well yesterday. While he made some bad, floor length passes early on yesterday, I thought Thornwell showed good floor vision yesterday and a very good feel for where his teammates were on the court at all times. One thing Thornwell has always had in his time here at South Carolina is the ability to play physical, on-ball defense while also moving his feet well and generally avoiding fouls. I think he showcased this ability very well yesterday. It was also clear that Thornwell was the leader on his squad yesterday. You can definitely tell Thornwell is a rising senior, and three-year starter on a team that is expected to compete for a SEC title this coming season. While he continued to show an advanced skill-set and good all around game, I thought this was the most important part of yesterday. Thornwell definitely showed he has all the intangibles required to be a leader.
PJ Dozier, to me, is the Gamecocks' most interesting player on the 2016 roster. While the Spring Valley HIgh School product came in with huge expectations last season, perhaps unfair expectations, he had his fair share of ups and downs. One thing, to me, that I think he struggled with last season was confidence. That was definitely not an issue yesterday. After his team was down by double digits at halftime, he helped lead a rally to win the title game by 5 points. After struggling early with handling the ball in traffic, Dozier started to show an improved skill-set. He is quicker off the bounce, has an improved mid-range jumpshot, and is finishing better at the rim. He needs to keep working in the weight room, but Dozier is lightyears ahead of where he was last season. If he can keep improving, the Gamecocks could find themselves with an elite 1-2 punch with Dozier and Thornwell.
Khadim is a very intriguing prospect. Standing at 7'1'', Khadim possesses elite length that is required to compete in the lowpost in the SEC. With decent lateral movement, he uses his length well to defend the pick and roll on the perimeter and is also able to rotate over to help on the dribble-drive. He also flashed the ability to run the floor, catch a difficult pass and finish above the rim. I do think he needs to be more active on the boards. He did finish with 7 rebounds yesterday, but he seemed to get boxed out fairly easily. He also can get lost on offense occasionally, but that is something that will be improved with reps in practice and simply just getting more playing time. Khadim plays with good effort and shows a good skill-set, with tremendous upside. Once he gets a full year in a college weight training and nutrition program Khadim has the potential to be an elite post player in the SEC.