South Carolina Upstate Spartans 2010 NCAA Mens Basketball Preview

By Joel Welser


<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />South Carolina Upstate Spartans

Atlantic Sun Conference


2009-10: 6-23, 6-14

2009-10 postseason: none

Coach: Eddie Payne (115-121 at South Carolina Upstate, 372-354 overall)


If there is a positive about going 6-23, it is that South Carolina Upstate won five of their last 13 games. The Spartans are still transitioning from Division II and will not be eligible for any postseason play this year and that is why Coach Eddie Payne is building for the future. Unfortunately that does involve a lot of rebuilding this season. In total, 11 players will be suiting up for first time this season and even the transfers are all just sophomores. This is a young team that will have time to grow up together and start seriously competing for an Atlantic Sun title in the next three or four years.


Key Losses: G DeMarion Gordon, G Cedric Koffi, G Ryan LeGates, F Caleb Palkert, F Pat Posey, C Nick Schneiders


Key Newcomers:

Seven of the newcomers are freshmen and they will all get an opportunity to play since only four players return from last year’s roster. Guards Chandler Hash and Shane Porchea will look to make the biggest impact in the backcourt. Hash is a superb scorer from anywhere on the floor and can handle the ball as well. Porchea is not quite as dangerous as a scorer, but at 6-4 he has the size to attack the basket and finish around the rim. Bruce Haynes and Marquis Sloan will add even more depth to perimeter. The star freshman of the frontcourt is 6-5 small forward Torrey Craig. He may be a little undersized, but Craig is a tough player and can do plenty of scoring and rebounding in the paint. Babatunde Olomuwiya and Will Saunders will give the frontcourt a little more size with their 6-7 frames.



Only four players may be back, but it is nice that one of them is an experienced senior point guard. Josh Chavis may not put up great numbers day in and day out, but he is a becoming a steady ball handler and a relatively dangerous scoring threat from anywhere on the floor. Last season he connected on 37.9 percent of his attempts from long range and the defense has to guard him on the perimeter. The problem is he is only 5-9, so finishing around the basket can be difficult. Carter Cook was a part-time starter last season and brings some nice size to the perimeter. Cook will need to turn into a more consistent outside shooting threat if this team wants to have multiple outside shooters in the starting lineup, but Cook does have a nice mid-range game and is a solid defender and rebounder.



The new star of the team is 6-5 senior Mezie Uzochukwu. Last year he ranked second only to the now departed Nick Schneiders in scoring and rebounding with 8.4 and 6.5, respectively. Uzochukwu does not really have the size to play the power forward spot or the outside shooting ability one would like from their small forward. However, Uzochukwu is simply a good player who will get the job done no matter where he plays. The other returning player is Chalmers Rogers. With his experience, Rogers is expected to play more than 16.1 minutes per game this season. If Rogers can start scoring more consistently and spend more time in the paint, he should be a fine starter; otherwise he could lose his tenuous hold on a starting gig sooner rather than later.


Who to Watch:

The freshmen will play their part, but the slightly more experienced newcomers should make a bigger impact. Tony Dukes spent one year at the junior college level and could be the shooter that this team needs. Jodd Maxey and redshirt freshman Ricardo Glenn will add some depth in the paint, but Rob Elam may be the most important newcomer for USC Upstate. Elam sat out last season at East Mississippi College, but is ready to compete for a starting gig with the Spartans. He is not much of a scorer, but he is a strong rebounder and shot blocker.


Final Projection:

The Spartans have a long way to go, but this young group is not too bad and should only get better as the days and years go by. However, as far as this season is concerned, the four returning players need to be leaders and help usher in the next generation. If Chavis, Cook, Uzochukwu and Rogers cannot pick up the slack left behind by all of the departures, it will be another long season in Spartanburg.


Projected Post-season Tournament: none


Projected Starting Five:

Josh Chavis, Senior, Guard, 7.9 ppg

Carter Cook, Junior, Guard, 6.8 ppg

Mezie Uzochukwu, Senior, Forward, 8.4 ppg

Rob Elam, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season

Chalmers Rogers, Junior, Forward, 2.4 ppg