South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin dealing with potential transfer issues
COLUMBIA — As expected, South Carolina announced Wednesday that new men’s basketball coach Frank Martin is bringing his entire staff with him from Kansas State.
The assistant coaches will be Brad Underwood, Matt Figger and Lamont Evans. Underwood will be the associate head coach and Figger the recruiting coordinator, as they were at Kansas State.
Also serving in the same roles as they did at Kansas State: director of basketball operations Andy Assaley and strength and conditioning coach Scott Greenawalt.
Martin was hired last Tuesday to replace Darrin Horn, who was fired after four seasons.
Now, Martin will determine if any of USC’s current players will transfer. Martin said he has spoken with two starters — sophomore center Damontre Harris and freshman forward Anthony Gill — as they decide whether to return to USC next season. Martin said he planned to speak with both players’ families later Wednesday.
Harris and Gill ranked first and second on the team in rebounding last season, with 5.5 and 4.7 per game. Gill was third in scoring (7.6 points per game), while Harris was fourth (6.8).
“They obviously are trying to figure out who I am and what we’re about,” Martin said. “Their families are inquiring. I’ve got conversations here (Wednesday) with their families and face-to-face meetings with their families. Once we get past the next four or five days, I should have more clarity with those two and other guys in our program.”
USC has already lost one starter from last season: senior wing player and leading scorer Malik Cooke. The Gamecocks likely won’t have point guard and second-leading scorer Bruce Ellington until early December for the second straight year because the sophomore from Berkeley High has decided to again play both football and basketball.
Even if Harris and Gill both decide to stay, Martin will have three scholarships available to fill for next season, because USC has signed just one recruit, power forward Tyrone Haughton, and Ellington will again be on a football scholarship.
Martin planned to work out his new players Wednesday for the first time, and then two more times this week. He has already received feedback from other coaches about USC’s players, so he had some idea about what to expect from the Gamecocks, who went 10-21 last season.
Martin knew when he took over at USC that he would probably have to deal with players thinking about transferring.
“That happens any time there’s a coaching change around the country,” he said. “Those kids signed up to play for Darrin and the University of South Carolina. I don’t take that as a negative. Never have. Never will. I didn’t recruit these kids to South Carolina or any other school. It’s my job here for the next week, two weeks, three weeks to earn their trust.”