College Sports

South Carolina drops annual game with Division 2 school from schedule. Here’s why

Frank Martin breaks down what he likes about newcomers, returnees

South Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin breaks down what he likes about his 2019-20 Gamecocks.
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South Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin breaks down what he likes about his 2019-20 Gamecocks.

South Carolina’s 2019-20 basketball schedule isn’t finalized, but here’s what’s known: The Gamecocks will play at Clemson, the Gamecocks will play 18 SEC games and the Gamecocks won’t play a Division II opponent.

Frank Martin confirmed the latter during a Wednesday news conference at Colonial Life Arena.

This differs from the past five seasons when USC beat Coker, Francis Marion, Lander, Limestone and North Greenville, all in-state DII programs.

The change is to help the Gamecocks build a better NCAA Tournament profile. The Big Dance’s selection committee uses NET rankings as a main metric in team evaluation. The NET doesn’t factor non-DI games into its calculation.

“Our job is to prepare our team for the NCAA Tournament,” Martin said. “That’s what we fight our tails off to get into.”

Martin has said in the past he schedules in-state DII foes because it “keeps the money in the state, which to me is huge. These smaller schools, the reason they’re small is because their budgets are small. So giving them the opportunity to collect that kind of money is something they’re not afforded very often.”

Martin said Wednesday: “I’m not going to schedule the DII this year and I went against what I’m about to make that decision. No one forced me to make that decision. I made it.”

An opponent to replace the DII foe has yet to be revealed.

Martin ‘at peace’ with NCAA

Former South Carolina assistant Lamont Evans is one of three coaches linked to the NCAA basketball trial serving jail time. The fallout could put any school linked to the probe in position to be hit with NCAA sanctions.

“I think (the NCAA) is going to be extremely aggressive,” Martin said. “And when the time comes, I will applaud them for being aggressive.

“Where we stand on that? I don’t know, obviously Lamont worked here. ... I’m at peace. I go to bed every night and I’m at peace with how I live my life. And I think the people I work with, they’re at peace, too.”

Evans in January pled guilty to a bribery charge. He was accused of accepting $22,000 to steer players at USC and Oklahoma State to certain financial advisers and business managers. PJ Dozier, co-star of USC’s Final Four team, was an Evans recruit who, according to a February 2018 Yahoo report, “received at least $6,115 while in school.”

Minaya, Moss update

South Carolina’s injured duo of Justin Minaya (knee) and T.J. Moss (ankle/foot) from last year is back at full-go in the early offseason.

“They’re both healthy, they’re both going,” Martin said. “T.J.’s put on 20 pounds since he’s been on campus, which he needed. Justin’s feeling pretty good about himself right now. Physically, they’re both stronger than they were before. They’re in a good place.”

Minaya will be a redshirt sophomore in 2019-20 and Moss will be a redshirt freshman.

Yet to arrive

Five of South Carolina’s seven newcomers have arrived on campus. Two — graduate transfer Micaiah Henry, freshman Jalyn McCreary — will begin summer classes a tad later.

McCreary graduated from Legacy Charter in Greenville last Friday, which wasn’t early enough to enroll for Carolina’s first summer school session. He plans to start classes June 24.

Henry’s last class at Tennessee Tech is July 9. Martin said he’ll join USC soon after that.

Frank Martin, draft analyst

Martin will be in New York on Thursday to help with Sports Illustrated’s NBA Draft coverage. It begins at 7:30 a.m. and will be streamed on SI.com, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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