#95 South Carolina Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #95
Conference Rank: #9 SEC
The 2015-2016 campaign was the first time Coach Frank Martin had an NCAA Tournament quality team with mostly his players during his tenure at South Carolina. The Gamecocks looked like a tournament team most of the way through the year, but a late slide cost them and South Carolina had to settle for a trip to the NIT. There are some key pieces gone now and there is a little of rebuilding to be done. There is still talent here though and the future looks relatively bright, but do not be surprised if this group takes a step back this year. Sindarius Thornwell is the new star of the team after averaging 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists during his junior campaign. Thornwell is not the most consistent outside shooter around, but he is a major threat to shoot the ball, but will also use his 6-5, 215 pound frame to attack the basket.
2015-16 Record: 25-9, 11-7
2015-16 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Frank Martin
Coach Record: 70-62 at South Carolina, 187-116 overall
Who’s Out:
The biggest loss is Michael Carrera. He led the team with 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest. The 6-5 wing was a very consistent outside shooter and could attack the basket with ease. Carrera was the guy Coach Martin wanted taking the big shots. It remains to be seen if Thornwell, with his inconsistent outside shooting, can fill that role. The frontcourt duo of Laimonas Chatkevicius and Mindaugas Kacinas were one of the most pleasant surprises in the SEC last season. Chatkevicius averaged 10.2 points and 4.8 rebounds and Kacinas added 9.9 points and 5.1 rebounds and the ability to stretch the defense with his outside shooting. Those two were a tough, versatile duo of forwards that could do a lot of things for the Gamecocks. Marcus Stroman, Raymond Doby, Eric Cobb and Jamall Gregory are the other departures. Stroman, who opted to transfer after his sophomore season, averaged 14.8 minutes per game as the backup point guard last season.
Who’s In:
For obvious reasons Coach Martin bolstered his frontcourt with this class, but the two new guards are good ones. Incoming freshman Rakym Felder is a tough combo guard who has the potential to make an impact this season with his defense. Hassani Gravett spent one season at the junior college level and has the potential to take over the starting point guard duties at some point this season. He has enough of an outside shot to play off the ball occasionally as well. Starting or not, Gravett has the talent to play quite a few minutes for the Gamecocks this season. The frontcourt adds Sedee Keita, Maik-Kalev Kotsar, Khadim Gueye and Ran Tut. Keita is the highest regarded recruit of the class and has the potential to be a solid scorer in the paint as a freshman. Gueye is a very interesting prospect. At 7-1 and 220 pounds, he adds a shot blocking element that the team has been lacking in recent years. Tut is a junior college transfer who will need to use his experience to come in and provide a tough presence on the glass.
Who to Watch:
Thornwell may be the star of the team, but the backcourt has much more talent than that. Duane Notice was the team’s most prolific outside shooter last season and he should be again in 2016-2017. After averaging 10.8 points per game, Notice should join Thornwell as the Gamecock’s top scoring threats. Notice is mostly a shooter, but he can get to the basket too. P.J. Dozier will likely start the season as the team’s point guard again, but he will get competition from Gravett. Dozier averaged 6.7 points and 2.1 assists as a freshman, but struggled with turnovers and shooting the basketball. Dozier is a very talented player, but he does need to start being more productive with that year of experience under his belt. Justin McKie is a talented 6-4 guard, yet has not lived up to his expectations. If McKie can play a bigger role off of the bench this year, the backcourt is in great shape.
Final Projection:
The concern is in the frontcourt. Not only are Chatkevicius and Kacinas gone, but Carrera was the team’s best rebounder. That puts a ton of pressure on the newcomers and Chris Silva. Silva, a 6-9 sophomore, started six games last season and averaged 5.4 points and 4.5 rebounds. Silva is solid on the glass, but somebody in the South Carolina frontcourt needs to be a scorer too. Silva will get the opportunity, but do not be surprised if sooner or later Silva emerges as the main interior scoring threat. How well all those pieces come together in the frontcourt will have a lot to do with the success or failures of this season. South Carolina has the talent to replicate last year’s successful campaign that ended with an NCAA Tournament snub, but the lack of experience will likely keep the Gamecocks from reaching that amount of success in 2016-2017.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
P.J. Dozier, Sophomore, Guard, 6.7 points per game
Duane Notice, Senior, Guard, 10.8 points per game
Sindarius Thornwell, Senior, Guard, 13.4 points per game
Sedee Keita, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Chris Silva, Sophomore, Forward, 5.4 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.0 (105th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.3 (108, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.2 (207, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.7 (25, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.4 (234, 12)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35,1 (148, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.3 (237, 9)
Rebound Margin: 6.1 (30, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (152, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.6 (265, 13)

Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#91 Sedee Keita