MYRTLE BEACH Most recruiting analysts believe Carlton Geathers is a project. Perhaps it’s that challenge that has endeared him to his future coach.
The 6-foot-11 Carvers Bay center, another standout athlete in family full of them, signed with South Carolina during the late signing period last month. Gamecocks basketball coach Darrin Horn raved about Geathers’ potential before speaking to members of the school’s booster club on Tuesday.
“We’re really excited about Carlton,” Horn said. “He’s a young man that we think his best basketball is ahead of him. The great thing from him is that we’ve seen great strides from him. We’ll get him on campus and get to work with him. We know about the bloodlines, and I think he’s going to fit in really well with what we do.”
Horn’s recruiting class is ranked 17th nationally by scout.com, but the addition of Geathers likely pulled down that rating. The Gamecocks signed three four-star prospects – Bruce Ellington, Damontre Harris and R.J. Slawson – but Geathers was the only player that did not earn at least three stars or an individual position ranking.
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Still, Horn and Co. saw enough in him late in the recruiting process to take a chance.
“We had a scholarship available,” Horn said. “Carlton is a young man that we had followed, were familiar with and knew about. He just continued to progress his senior year. Obviously his team had a terrific season in the state tournament. With that big body and getting to know him even better, he was a young man we thought would be a real asset to our program.”
Another area product, Aynor’s T.J. Johnson, is already a valued commodity in the South Carolina athletic department. He was one of just five Gamecocks to start every football game in 2009, earning Freshman All-SEC honors at right guard.
Much like Geathers, most recruitniks figured Johnson would be a project coming out of high school. Instead he’s become one of the team’s most consistent players.
“Unbelievable young man,” USC receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said Tuesday. “Great guy. Great player. Intelligent kid. Extremely hard worker.
“I love talking about him, because coming from Aynor ... not many great players come from there. I used to always ask him, ‘Who taught you how to work hard? Who taught you how to just be really tough? Who taught you how to play at a high level?’ Between his family and his coach, they did a great job.”
Johnson did such a good job in 2009 that he earned a promotion of sorts. This spring, he was moved from guard to center to help replace graduated seniors Garrett Anderson and Lemuel Jeanpierre.
“That’ll shake you up if you aren’t used to [snapping],” Spurrier said. “We get in the shotgun a bunch, and if you’re up there looking around and making a bunch of calls and you’ve got to fire it straight back every time, that’s a little something different on your plate. That was something different for him that he did very well at.
“We hold him in high regard, and we gave him that duty. We think he’s the best lineman we have really.”Contact JOSH HOKE at 843-626-0318.
To view Hoke’s CCU sports blog, “The Roost,” go to TheSunNews.com.