Darrin Horn on the floor. The exhibition game, between USC and Kentucky Wesleyan (Div II) was just that, it was an opportunity for the coaching staff to place their young talent, and I do mean talent, on the floor in true college competitive exhibition. The result was a display of raw talent, a glimpse of aggressive defense, a lot of movement without the ball, a few nice moves, a couple of dunks, some aerial highlights and a touch of energy in certain transitions.
On display was the newcomers, 6-5 Fr. Lakeem Jackson, a solid athlete who is capable of playing small forward and big guard, great elevation and appears to really like attacking the glass. Fr. Ramon Galloway, at 6-1, is a leaper and displays tremendous speed, awkward shot technique, but appears to score the basketball with confidence. Both Players can defend on the perimeter and will make the Horn pressure schemes very effective with Downey and Dominique Archie lurking in passing lanes. In the post, junior college transfer, Johndre Jefferson offered extreme promise with his vertical foot speed and half court quickness at 6-9. Jefferson is quick off the floor around the glass as evident by his 6 rebounds in 15 minutes. Jefferson's balance and athleticism should also support the defensive rotation and allow Coach Horn to maintain his desired defensive schemes that are often requiring pressure from full and mid-range.
The nights entertainment for this writer was the quarterback style of Downey, reading the defense, watching the progression and offering often pinpoint accurate passes in very attractive scoring positions to players throughout the contest. I know it was an exhibition, but these were Division II college athletes who were talented as well. The effort only provided Devan with 7 assists, but the passes were delivered in positions that will produce 11-15 dimes once this group fully recognizes the vision of its team and court leader. Another point of reference for fans interested in the Gamecock basketball team is that Coach Horn has given a tremendous amount of latitude in shot selection to the players, which appears to let them feel good on the floor in transition. Once these players learn how to play together, the synergy of veterans, Downey, Archie, Muldrow, Mike Holmes, Brandis Raley Ross, Evaldas Baniulis, Austin Steed and Robert Wilder engaged with the first year sensations Jackson, Galloway, Jefferson and Stephen Spinella a heralded pure shooter at 6-4, the Cocks should be ready to play with a chip on their shoulder for be placed in the SEC Eastern Division 4th spot in the preseason ranking to include a recent sports poll that placed them 66th in the country. Let's not forget a Division I 6-6 transfer, Malik Cooke, that will sit out this year, but will have the opportunity to assist in practice in making his teammates better and in the game preparations. Cooke was a starter last year for Nevada, before returning home to South Carolina.
While it appeared that the energy level was down, a few things are clear once the house is packed with the Garnet Army and the real basketball faithfuls, this team has the ability to repeat the early success of the 2008-2009 squad, but they should be able to extend the success with the legs and length offered by the new additions to the unit. The problem for the coaches, distribution of minutes to a lot of quality players.