The South Carolina Gamecocks have had their fair share of problems this year, but the questions about next year may be worst.
The South Carolina Gamecocks Men’s Basketball team is one of the worst teams in the SEC. South Carolina is currently ranked 12th in the SEC, which can be chalked up as a disappointing season. Some college hoops’ analysts were predicting the Gamecocks to crack the top-25 this year and to make an easy bid into the March Madness tournament.
Obviously, this season took a turn for the worst, with the roster hitting a couple of season halts due to COVID-19, which resulted in a vital part of their early season to be missed, and with head coach Frank Martin testing positive twice, he hasn’t been involved as much as he should be.
Regardless, the various trials the team has faced this season will not stack up to next year’s issue. The Gamecocks have something of a good issue but if not dealt with correctly, can be costly to all of next season.
The Gamecocks have a guard issue in Columbia
I know it doesn’t sound that serious but it really is a big problem facing the South Carolina men’s team. Regardless of how much you like him, Frank Martin is nearing the hot seat and next season will be ‘make or break’ for him.
So if we look at the South Carolina roster, we currently have a total of seven guards right now: AJ Lawson, TJ Moss, Jermaine Cousinard, Trae Hannibal, Mike Green, Seventh Woods, and Ford Cooper Jr. Let’s just nix Seventh Woods because, in all honesty, he has been in school now for almost five years and he should be nearing graduation, so the likelihood that he comes back to play again is minuscule. Now this means that there are SIX guards who are eligible to come back and play for South Carolina next year.
AJ Lawson, the Gamecocks poster child, is a very talented player and I expect him to go to the league. Lawson, despite his inconsistency at Colonial Life Arena, has the intangibles of a basketball player and overall his collegiate career is impressive, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he landed in the G-league somewhere. So we’ll list Lawson as a ‘doubtful’ in terms of if he’ll come back for the Gamecocks.
Jermaine Couisnard is likely to take the reigns with Lawson’s departure, but that really just depends on how he improves this offseason. Couisnard has struggled this year in his shooting efficiency and scoring and if his struggles continue, I’m not sure if we can automatically make him into the starter.
Trae Hannibal is a talented athlete but hasn’t lived up to the hype since coming to the University. Hannibal played a lot of iso-ball in high school and his touch really hasn’t followed him to Columbia.
TJ Moss is a turnover machine and shouldn’t get any minutes, but Martin and the coaching staff must like him because they continue to play him. Moss’s career-high came his freshman year, where he averaged six points in over 20 minutes of play. This isn’t downright awful but the pair of turnovers he committed a game his freshman tour show that he isn’t a basketball player to invest in. Moss has never been a good scorer and is, at best, a mediocre facilitator. Moss is a waste of minutes and when Martin decides to retain him, Moss will be a player that gets far too many minutes and takes away from talented athletes developing.
The Gamecocks final two guards are both really talented players who just doesn’t seem to get minutes. Mike Green was an absolute baller in high school and is, without a doubt, the best shooter on the team but gets no minutes because Martin would rather waste playing time on Woods. Green deserves more minutes now. Finally, you have Ford Cooper Jr, who was a three-star recruit coming from Charlotte.
The problem gets even worst because of the recruits coming in
Jacobi Wright is a phenomenal basketball player, the four-star recruit(according to ESPN), averages 17 points per game, and tallies three assists. Wright is going to be an instant-impact player when he gets to Columbia. Wright has the talent and intangibles to be a phenomenal basketball player, but it all depends on how Martin allocates player minutes.
Then we have Devin Carter, a combo guard with a knack for creating space. Carter averages 28 points per game and grabs eight boards per contest. Carter is the son of previous NBA player Anthony Carter, which is always a positive for a team. But Carter may not stay with South Carolina long if he doesn’t get enough minutes.
So if AJ Lawson doesn’t get a G-League invitation and returns to Columbia to play another season with the Gamecocks, then you have to balance minutes between him, Couisnard, Hannibal, and Wright. But that’s IF that’s how Frank Martin sees it, it can get even more complicated if he decides to give Moss the minutes he usually does.
Devin Carter and Jacobi Wright are both talented young athletes and the team will need to keep them happy for them to stay long-term. If Wright is the future of this program, which he definitely is, then Martin will HAVE to give him minutes so he doesn’t transfer to a school that will use him more.
Next season’s guard problem in balancing minutes between the various talented players will be something that Frank Martin will have to juggle, along with certain player’s feelings. Next year will be Martin’s most important season with the Gamecocks and he’ll have plenty of guard problems to juggle.