COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Frank Martin’s responses to questions about next year’s roster seem to change daily.
Transfers, the NBA draft and one dismissal has left Martin’s program in flux with as many as seven players from last year’s roster who might not return. The scenario has Martin a little frustrated with the system.
”That’s what our game has gotten to, all one and dones,” Martin said. ”The ones that come in and are real good, they leave. The ones who can’t get away from the outside noise, they leave. The ones that come in and say, `This is a lot harder than I thought it was,’ they leave.
”It’s a different roster every year. This is unbelievable what this has become.”
The latest upheaval in Martin’s program was Monday’s dismissal of suspended point guard Rakym Felder , who was considered the Gamecocks’ future at the position for two years. Leading scorer and rebounder Chris Silva a nd highly regarded forward Brian Bowen declared for the NBA draft .
Guards David Beatty and Kory Holden and forwards Ibrahim Famouke Doumbia and Khadim Gueye, all who figured into the Gamecocks plans for 2018-19, have transferred due to lack of playing time.
Throw in South Carolina’s one-year grad transfers in starters Frank Booker and Wesley Myers and the team could lose half the roster who were part of practices last fall.
”You never take anything for granted,” Martin said.
Just a season ago, Martin and the Gamecocks were reveling in the program’s first Final Four. They got there with three, four-year seniors, including SEC player of the year Sindarius Thornwell now with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Martin’s signed 6-foot-8 forward Alazo Frink of Roselle, New Jersey, and Jermaine Cousinard, a 6-4 guard from East Chicago, Indiana. Martin believes these players will bolster the Gamecocks, no matter who is back for next season.
The Gamecocks are looking for a bounce-back year next season. South Carolina was 17-16 and missed the postseason after reaching the Final Four in 2017.
Silva, Bowen and Felder were expected to lead the resurgence.
The 6-foot-9 Silva was named to the all-Southeastern Conference team and was the league’s co-defensive player of the year. Bowen was the Louisville recruit in the heart of the college basketball corruption case who enrolled at South Carolina in January. Felder was a key backcourt reserve on the Final Four team who had 15 points in the Gamecocks second-round NCAA Tournament upset of Duke in that run.
Silva and Bowen have not hired agents, meaning they could return to school by the NCAA’s deadline of May 30.
Felder was suspended indefinitely after his arrest for fighting last summer and was not in classes last fall. Martin reinstated him to the program, although not to the court, last spring and gave Felder several guidelines to meet if he hoped to play again.
That, Martin said, did not happen.
Silva wanted to go through the process, he said this month, to see where he might improve in the eyes of NBA evaluators.
The 6-foot-7 Bowen, from Saginaw, Michigan , transferred following his suspension from Louisville amid the federal probe after news of an alleged payment involving the Cardinals and his father to get him to join that school. He has not yet been cleared by the NCAA.
Bowen’s attorney has said the NBA draft is a hedge against the NCAA turning him down.
Martin and athletic director Ray Tanner say Bowen’s reinstatement process is moving forward. Tanner acknowledged there’s little South Carolina can do between now and May 30 to speed up the NCAA’s decision.
If Silva and Bowen stay in the draft – last season, sophomore P.J. Dozier remained in the NBA draft and was not picked – it means Martin will have to find replacements for three likely starters. That would mean only forward Maik Kotsar, a junior next season, would have started 30 or more games each of the past two year for the Gamecocks.
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