The South Carolina Gamecocks men's basketball team head into the 2015-2016 season hoping to build off of their first winning season since the 2008-2009 campaign. Frank Martin's group returns a core group of guys led by junior guard Sindarius Thornwell, but also bring in six true freshmen, led by Columbia native and former Spring Valley standout P.J. Dozier.
While Martin did express gratitude for standout Sinadius Thornwell, sophomore point guard Marcus Stroman stole the show.
Martin spent most of his 20 minute media session discussing the team's progression from last season to now, but spent a good amount of time commending Stroman, going as far as using the word awesome to describe a player. Something I never saw coming out of Martin's scalding hot mouth.
Martin thanked Stroman for his commitment to the Gamecocks as a recruit, while citing the sophomore's progression as the team's point guard and key leader, even though he's in only his second season with the team.
As a true freshman in 2014, Stroman finished second on the team with 87 assists, behind then senior Ty Johnson, while averaging 4.3 points per game. If you don't remember, Stroman became ill in the middle of the season for the Gamecocks, forcing him to miss 8 games while losing a total of 20 pounds off his frame. But, he was able to rebound from his sickness to help out the Gamecocks during the season's final stretch.
With the departure of Johnson, and a thin cast of experienced guards, Stroman looks to lead the Gamecocks at the point position in 2015-16. While Stroman has been wise beyond his years so far, Martin believes the next step for his development relies on wether or not he can hold his teammates accountable.
"He needs to learn how to demand that his teammate gets to the right place," Martin said Tuesday. "That's what point guards do. All the great ones don't turn the ball over and they make sure their teammate gets to where they belong. That's his next step."
While he may need to be more fiery on the court, Martin also praised Stroman for his selflessness off the court, referring to him as a genuine team player.
"He's another guy in the locker room that brings the team together. You can tell who those guys are because after practice, good practice or bad practice, you see players migrate to certain guys and he's one of the guys they all migrate too. That tells you a lot about who he is as a person."
Stay tuned for more coverage from today's media day with the Gamecocks.