COLUMBIA — Of course Tre Campbell rolled his ankle in practice a week ago and probably won't be back for another week.
He’s a South Carolina point guard, isn’t he?
It was a litany of maladies to the most important position on the floor last season, and really started when P.J. Dozier decided to go pro after his sophomore season and the Gamecocks' run to the Final Four. Dozier didn’t get drafted (but was picked up in the G League) and then Rakym Felder kicked himself off the team, with an opportunity to return later.
Kory Holden severely injured his hamstring. Wes Myers had a strong season but sprained his ankle just before the SEC opener, heaping the point guard duties on Hassani Gravett.
Gravett was serviceable but was clearly much more comfortable playing off the ball. But as the Gamecocks struggled through the season with no consistent floor general, the mantra became, “Just get through it. Next year, it will be so much better.”
Holden would be back, as would Felder, and David Beatty, who could play point in a pinch. Holden quit in mid-February (he landed at South Alabama). Felder, after doing what he was told not to do in order to remain with the team, was permanently dismissed in late April. Beatty transferred to La Salle a couple of weeks before Felder left for good.
Suddenly the ball was back in Gravett’s hands, unless coach Frank Martin wanted to give it to true freshman T.J. Moss.
“That’s why I decided to come here,” Campbell said in August. “But I still got to work for it.”
Martin and his staff scrambled to get Campbell, a graduate transfer from Georgetown who didn’t play last season due to injury. Tearing two knee ligaments when the Hoyas’ team bus collided with an SUV in February 2017, Campbell missed all of the 2017-18 season after finishing the previous season with just six minutes in eight games.
The lack of stats (out for a year, 3.6 points per game as a junior) wasn't a deterrent. Georgetown ran a Princeton offense where it was always more about being patient and finding the backdoor cutter than scoring from the point guard spot.
What does he bring to USC? All those games of Big East experience. Martin did one of his best coaching jobs in guiding the Gamecocks to a winning season despite not having a stable point guard, but he needed a true director for this year.
“Without having played any games yet, I feel a lot better about our point guard situation this year,” Martin said Monday. “Tre’s been real good. I’m real happy with Tre right now.”
To hear he had been out a week and was a mere hopeful to return by the end of this week wasn’t a surprise. But expect to see him out there by Nov. 6, the season-opener, and hopefully for the Oct. 26 exhibition game.
“Something I came here to do was make this transition. I know he wants to play fast and full-court, that’s something that I can do,” Campbell said. “They said they needed me.”
Boy, did they. The injury jinx may not have fully left USC, but they addressed having the man for the job.