Start time: 7 p.m.
TV: None; ESPN3
Live Stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: 107.5 The Game (Columbia)
Live Audio: Gamecock IMG Sports Network
The Gamecocks will have a new look this year, as star guards Sindarius Thornwell and PJ Dozier are now in the NBA, and key contributors Duane Notice and Justin McKie graduated. Thornwell, who won SEC Player of the Year and was named the NCAA Tournament East Regional Most Outstanding Player, led the Gamecocks in scoring (21.4 points per game), rebounds (7.1), assists (2.8) and steals (2.1). A polished, well-rounded player, his savvy and toughness will be sorely missed by South Carolina, and Dozier complemented him as the team’s second-leading scorer (13.4). Throw in the loss of McKie and Notice as productive, veteran roleplayers and South Carolina is missing a staggering percentage of its offensive production from the 2016-17 campaign.
There is also the matter of sophomore guard Rakym Felder, who flashed some big-game potential for the Gamecocks last season and is currently suspended after legal troubles. If he is able to rejoin the team — an uncertain possibility, at this point — it won’t be until January, when the SEC slate starts.
So, it’s safe to say South Carolina has a considerable void to fill at guard, especially after the early and unexpected departure of Dozier. Here, the Gamecocks will look to junior Hassani Gravett to step up, and hope that transfer Kory Holden can continue scoring at the clip he did at Delaware (17.7 ppg). There’s also Maine transfer Wesley Myers, a high scorer himself (16.9 ppg); Florida Atlantic transfer Frank Booker; and former 3-star recruit David Beatty. The backcourt is, to put it politely, more or less a mystery.
But South Carolina has some pieces to work with in the frontcourt, beginning with returning starters Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar. Silva’s scoring touch, in particular, will be counted on, but he needs to continue keeping his foul trouble under control so he can stay on the court. Kotsar isn’t much of an offensive threat, but is one of the team’s better defenders and a solid rebounder as well. Freshmen forwards Felipe Haase and Justin Minaya got a lot of run during the Gamecocks’ exhibitions against Erskine and Virginia Tech, and 7-foot-1 Jason Cudd could work his way into the rotation as well.
The lineups against Wofford likely won’t get as wacky as they did during those exhibitions, but Frank Martin is still a coach who likes to experiment and play a lot of guys. With this roster, especially, there’s going to be a lot of tinkering early to see what works.
Wofford, which is welcoming the Gamecocks into a brand new basketball arena, finished 16-17 (10-8) last season, falling to UNC-Greensboro in the Southern Conference semifinals. The Terriers are usually a solid squad, and boast two preseason All-SoCon players in junior guard Fletcher Magee and junior forward Cameron Jackson. The 6-foot-4 Magee, who was a SoCon first-team honoree last season, led Wofford with 18.6 points per game and set a school record for made 3-pointers with 112. The 6-foot-8 Jackson was third in scoring with 12.6 points per game and also third in the conference in field goal percentage (58.8%). Overall, the Terriers were chosen to finish sixth in the SoCon by the league’s coaches and fifth by the media.
The last time the Gamecocks went to Spartanburg, they left with an embarrassing 68-61 defeat in 2009. These Terriers could test a South Carolina team that needs to figure itself out in the post-Thornwell era, but the Gamecocks should spoil the housewarming party with a win.