‘I’m no one’s second option’

Hammond School power forward Chevez Goodwin, who is averaging nearly 19 points and 12 rebounds a game, has signed to play with the College of Charleston next season.

As basketball signing day approached last November, Hammond School power forward Chevez Goodwin started getting phone calls from some unlikely sources.

He began hearing from basketball coaches of Power 5 college programs — teams in the ACC, SEC and Big East — wanting Goodwin to hold off on signing with the College of Charleston.

The coaches said they might have a scholarship for Goodwin, who had verbally committed to play for the Cougars in August.

“Charleston was the first school to offer me a scholarship and that was important to me,” Goodwin said. “They’ve been in contact with me almost every day for the last year-and-a-half and that showed me they were committed to me. They treated me like I was a part of their family.”

So when other coaches came calling, Goodwin said it was easy to tell them no.

“When the big schools called and wanted me to wait to sign, I knew what they were really saying,” Goodwin said. “They already had someone else they liked better than me, but if that guy fell through then they’d sign me. I’m no one’s second option. I think I’ve proved that my whole career.

“Those schools would tell me they liked me, but College of Charleston said they needed me more than any other player in the country. I was like their first-round draft pick. They’ve believed in me from the very beginning.”

As college recruiters scouted Goodwin’s more famous high school teammate — Seventh Woods — this season, they quickly discovered the player they missed out on. Goodwin, a 6-9 power forward, is averaging 18.9 points, 12 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on a team that has been nationally ranked for most of the season by USA Today.

“Chevez Goodwin is a high-major player,” said Hammond coach Mark McClam, who played at the College of Charleston. “If he was uncommitted and still around right now, the Connecticuts, the South Carolinas and Clemsons of the world would be all over him. Coaches would come down to look at Seventh and see Chevez play and try to recruit him, but by then it was too late. I’m so happy for College of Charleston. They definitely stole one from some of the bigger schools. They got on Chevez early and stayed on him.”

Goodwin spent most of his high school years playing in the shadow of Woods, one of the nation’s top guards who signed with North Carolina. Goodwin has faced and held his own against the best players in the Columbia area, including Spring Valley High School’s Jordan Bruner, who signed with Yale, and South Carolina freshman P.J. Dozier.

“Those are all great players, guys I really respect,” Goodwin said. “Playing against those guys, I always felt like I had to prove myself. I think that’s what motivates me. I’m not going to be jealous of those guys. I’m not jealous of Seventh, he’s my teammate. I’m really proud of Seventh and everything that he’s accomplished.”

The Cougars lose just one player from this year’s team — senior power forward James Bourne. McClam expects Goodwin to be able to play right away.

“Chevez has only been able to show about half of his game in high school,” McClam said. “We’ve needed him to play in the post. But I see Chevez as a face-up power forward at the next level. He has deep range on his jump shot. He can knock down 3s, he can take you off the dribble and get to the rim. He’s an extremely skilled offensive player.

“His upside is off the charts. There’s no doubt he’ll be an impact player for Charleston. He’d be an impact player on most teams in the country.”

Having watched the Cougars play against LSU and Miami this season, Goodwin thinks he’ll be a perfect fit for the Cougars.

“I’ve seen what they can and can’t do against the best competition and I think I’ll fit in perfectly,” Goodwin said. “I think I can bring them an element that they’ve been missing. I think I’m going to be a matchup problem.”

College of Charleston coach Earl Grant couldn’t be happier about landing Goodwin.

“We are ecstatic about getting Chevez Goodwin,” Grant said. “It is certainly a plus when you can add someone with his height and his skill level to your team. He will bring a different dimension to our program as well as to the CAA. Chevez is going to be a great player at the College of Charleston.”

When the Cougars went 9-24 in Grant’s first season, Goodwin wasn’t worried. He never doubted his decision to sign with Charleston.

“That was that team and that’s not the team I’ll be playing on,” Goodwin said. “Look how good they are doing this year, and they’ve got some of their best players that have been out a lot of the season. I’m a winner. That’s the kind of program I come from and that’s the kind of program I’m going to. College of Charleston is going back to the NCAA Tournament again like they used to back in the day, and I’m going to be a part of that.”

Hammond School, Columbia

Class: Senior

Height: 6-9

Weight: 205

Stats (per game): 18.9 points, 12 rebounds, 1.7 blocks