COLUMBIA — Frank Booker is South Carolina’s best 3-point shooter but has taken one 3-point shot over the last two games. When they’re not falling, they’re not falling.
He’s still making an impact as USC's take-charge guy — a role that often leaves him flat on his back.
If a boxscore listed "charges taken," Booker would most likely be among the SEC’s leaders, if not looking down at the others. He’s easily the Gamecocks’ best at being able to stop on a dime, stand straight up, take the contact and hit the deck.
“Yeah, it’s something I take pride in,” Booker said recently. “Whatever it takes to help the team win.”
The senior took three charges Saturday against Vanderbilt, causing quite a few mutters and head-shakes as infuriated Commodore players gave the ball to the official. Like rebounding, it’s a desire, not a skill.
A player must be willing to risk catching an opponent's knee in a tender spot when attempting to draw a charge. He also has to keep an eye on the charge circle in the paint, making sure his heels are outside it.
Mostly, he can’t be afraid to take a few retaliatory shots from angered shooters. Booker, from Iceland and having made stops in Augusta, Oklahoma and Florida, has taken swats from the best of them.
It has spread to teammates Chris Silva and Justin Minaya, and while Martin cracked that he’d like some of his European imports to get the message, Booker is doing a fine job of controlling the action by himself. While he’s now coming off the bench (Evan Hinson’s energy has earned a starting spot the last two games), Booker’s motivation hasn’t slackened.
“When we got here, Michael Carrera took a bunch of charges,” Martin said, also reflecting on his Kansas State days where they did charge drills. “We used to make our guys stand there and take them. Book gives us that. Know what happens with that? It becomes contagious.”