Game Preview: Frank Martin And Co. Begin Their Quest For The NCAA Tournament As The Gamecocks Tip Off Their Season Against The Liberty Flames

Frank Martin will be coming into his ninth season as head coach for the Gamecocks with a record of 147-119 (.552). Martin has been a successful coach at South Carolina, including winning Coach of the Year in 2017 after his historic final four run in 2016-2017.

Frank has even been impactful off the court by joining the Naismith Coaches Circle in the fall of 2019, which recognizes those coaches that have impacted their communities, players, other coaches, and having a positive manner.

Due to Covid-19 the 2019-2020 season ended early resulting in no SEC Champion or March Madness. 

The Gamecocks will start their season off against Liberty University tomorrow in the HALL OF FAME CLASSIC November 28th at 4:00 on ESPN NEWS.


There should be a lot of expectations for this basketball team coming into this year. The Gamecocks finished last season 18-13 with a conference record of 10-8.

South Carolina has a lot of talent returning this year in AJ lawson, Jermaine Couisnard and Keyshawn Bryant. What should you expect from the Gamecocks this year? 

Under Frank Martin, the Gamecocks have succeeded in most years, including a Final Four run in the 2016-2017 basketball season led by SIndarius Thornwell.

I think South Carolina will focus again on more of a fast paced offense this year with all the athleticism this team has. Last year, the Gamecocks averaged 73 ppg, finishing 109th in the nation in scoring.

Who’s Back?

With two of your top three scorers returning this season, expect a fun and explosive offensive team to watch this year. I don’t think anybody is doubting South Carolina this year, especially with a top NBA prospect in AJ Lawson. Coming into this season, AJ averaged 13 ppg on 41% from the field, while averaging over a steal per game.

Another player to keep an eye on is Jermaine Couisnard. Couisnard would score 26 points against a good Kentucky team, including a buzzer beater to upset a win over Kentucky at Colonial Life Arena which would then earn him a spot in the starting lineup.

He then scored 28 in a road matchup against Ole Miss and became the first Gamecock since 2008 to hit double figure assists with 10 in the final home game versus Mississippi state. Couisnard would then go on to earn All-Freshman team honors from the league coaches. Expect him to have a good season as Couisnard finished last season averaging 12 points a game. 

Keyshawn Bryant is a player that I’m hoping will stay healthy all season long this year. Bryant just gives you highlight reels every single night he’s on the court. He is the most electrifying and athletic player on this team making contested dunks look easy and averaging close to a block every single game. Bryant will be a key player to the Gamecocks success this year helping at the wing and down low when needed on defense. 

The Gamecocks struggled big time last year in free throws, missing some crucial game changing shots that could have put the game away or brought them closer to a win. 

With Mike Kotsar gone, how does this affect the interior of the defense especially rebound wise? In the 2019-2020 season, South Carolina held opponents to just 39% from the field, which led the SEC and ranked 18th nationally. The Gamecocks also forced 16 opponents to 15 or more turnovers last season.

With that being said, Look to see Wildens Leveque or Alanzo Frink play Center this year for the Gamecocks as we need a defensive unit in the paint. I believe Frink will help down low a lot just like Kotsar did, hopefully averaging around eight points a game and grabbing six to seven rebounds a game.

Justin Minaya being healthy is a very talented balanced player that the Gamecocks will need to depend on this season making a difference on both sides of the ball. Minaya averaged a good 6 rebounds a game and close to a block in all 22 games he played in this year.

The Gamecocks are looking like a top talent team this year with plenty of guards to focus on to run the offense through and many forwards that they can depend on to get the job done. 

This year should be the year for AJ Lawson to shine, even more as Frank Martin said the other day “I think he’s the most under-appreciated. Good player in the country.” 

There’s no doubt about it, AJ Lawson is an easy 1st round pick next year and has shown numerous plays of how flashy he is as a point guard and leader on this Gamecocks team. 


Liberty finished their season off in 2019 with a 30-4 record with a 13-3 record, finishing 1st in the A-Sun Conference.

Liberty’s top three scorers are all gone from last year, leaving Darius McGhee to be their leader this year heading into the 2021 season.

With all of Liberty’s double digit scorers gone, the Gamecocks should have an easier ride to victory.

If the Gamecocks can stay healthy this season, I expect great things for this team, including a ticket to March Madness this year. The Gamecocks will have to focus on speed over size this year with the amount of talent on the roster.

AJ Lawson will be the key to South Carolina’s success this year with his flashy game and his experience the past two years. 

Since it’s the Gamecocks first game, I believe we should all expect them to play a little sloppy, including some turnovers as they did average 13 turnovers per game just last year. I’m excited for the basketball season and can’t wait to see where the Gamecocks end up once March hits. 

Expect a big night from AJ Lawson as South Carolina opens up their 2020-2021 campaign with a big win.

Prediction: South Carolina 78, Liberty 60

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