NY guard reflects persona of coach

Tarik Phillip was one of four players to commit to South Carolina last week, a huge weight off the shoulders of the 2012 point guard from Brooklyn. Look inside as Phillip and his coach discuss what he hopes to bring to the Carolina program.

Tarik Phillip was one of four players to commit to South Carolina last week, a huge weight off the shoulders of the 2012 point guard from Brooklyn.

"I'm very happy," Phillip said. "I think I made the right decision."

Phillip left New York last fall because he wasn't content with the offers he had received.

His AAU coach helped guide him to Queen City Prep in Charlotte, N.C., and the 6-foot-3 senior's interest picked up from there.

Ole Miss and Mississippi State came on strong, but South Carolina closed on him the hardest. Phillip fell in love with coach Frank Martin's fiery personality.

"I feel like we have a good relationship," Phillip said of Martin. "He's very straight forward."

Phillip feels like Martin's personality reflects the type of players he recruits.

An easy sell to him - along with one thing all players look for going to college, playing time.

"On the court, he told me I'd have a shot to play a lot of minutes," he said.

"He fell in love with South Carolina," Queen City Prep coach Tony Taylor said. "He loves Martin's style of play and his energy."

According to Taylor, Martin has "known about Tarik all along." He just wasn't looking for a point guard at the time at Kansas State.

"I think people are going to be shocked that he wasn't ranked when they see him," Taylor said. "Frank Martin knows talent when he sees it. This kid has a lot of upside."

Martin sold Phillip on being a part of the refurbishing of the Gamecock program.

"They told me they were trying to rebuild the program and start fresh," he said.

Phillip had never been to Columbia before his visit last week, but he enjoyed his time spent on campus.

"It was pretty nice," he said. "It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. It was very college oriented. It was a college city."

Phillip, who averaged 26 points and seven assists his senior year, according to Taylor, is familiar with another New York guard that committed to the Gamecocks the day before in Thaddeus Hall.

Phillip feels that the tandem will be dynamic in the backcourt, and that Hall's ability at the off-guard position will only escalate his own play.

"I'm real cool with Thaddeus Hall," he said. "He can shoot it, drive, defend. He can do it all. "I like to defend, so having a player in the backcourt with me that can defend with me is a big thing. It makes me feel comfortable."

"He makes his teammates better," Taylor said of Phillip. "He raises the play of all the players on the court. He has great court awareness."

According to Taylor, Philip was named all-tournament at "every tournament" the team played in, and he was named MVP of the National Association of Christian Athletes national tournament when Queen City took home to title of national champs.

"He's an open-court guard that likes to get up and down," Taylor said. "He's a smart guard and has a very high IQ, and he's a good on-the-ball defender.

"He's a true point guard, and I think he's one of the best coming out this year. Not because I'm his coach, I've just seen a lot of guards this year."

Joining Phillip and Hall in Martin's 2012 class are Lithuanians Minda Kacinas and Laimonas Chatkvevicius. Tyrone Haughton is also a part of the class, having signed to the Gamecocks in the fall under the former staff.

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