Gamecock target evaluations

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Last week at the Nike Peach Jam and Peach State (in Aiken) events, Frank Martin and company were on hand to take in some of the top talent in the country. Here's the take on seven of South Carolina's top targets.

2013

Sindarius Thornwell – After having a monster summer and spring, Thornwell hit a bit of a snag in his final week of the EYBL circuit. But as he told me, "I'm tired." So his play (or lack there of) could've been from being worn down. In the morning game, Thornwell went for seven and six on 2 of 8 shooting against one of the best AAU teams in the country in the Oakland Soldiers. Thornwell has an elite athleticism with a solid skillset, but at about 6-foot-5, he didn't really have the jumpshot going, something he's really improved on, and though he got to the rim at will, he just couldn't finish. The same thing happened in their bracket game against CIA Bounce. But CIA Bounce is the best AAU team in the country with the best player in the country in Andrew Wiggins. Though Thornwell struggled mightily on offense against Wiggins, his defense was impressive. He was able to cut Wiggins off from getting out in the open in transition repeatedly, and he was also able to cut off lanes in the halfcourt, making Wiggins pass the ball or settle for bad shots. It was rather impressive given that Wiggins take defenders apart daily.

Troy Williams – Williams is an elite athlete at 6-foot-6 with a motor that never stops running. He's diving and jumping all over the place with no regard for his body besides making the play any way he has to on offense and defense. Williams doesn't have a great jumpshot, but he has a serviceable one out to the 3-point line. He's an ultimate competitor and the wing from Virginia is definitely someone you can win with.

2014

Marcus Stroman (Commitment) – He was impressive throughout the whole event. The South Carolina commit showed the savvy to play at the SEC level, and he's a tough-nosed guard, the way Martin likes them. Stroman came up clutch for his team time and time again to get his team to the championship game where he hit clutch free throws and made clutch defensive plays (game-winning defensive plays) and game-winning shots. Even when his team lost in OT, he had a late-game steal and free throws that almost put his team on top. Stroman is very versatile as he does lots of things for a guard (i.e. post up, rebound, etc.), but though those are good traits to have at 6-foot, he will need to polish his point guard skills in the next two years and excel at the fundamentals that make up his position.

Ahmed Hill – Teammates with Stroman, Hill has gifts you can't teach. He's young, but has a very developed body with athleticism to add to his strength, which makes him tough to stop once he starts going down Hill. And unlike many players with tons of slashing athleticism, Hill has the finesse to pull-up and knock down jumpers. He's a scary prospect, and could end up being a steal if South Carolina can get him to pull the trigger early. At about 6-foot-4, he has good size for shooting guard, and the Georgia native could eventually shoot up the ranks a la Sindarius Thornwell.

L.J. Peak – It's hard to get much out of Peak these days, but he's still a tremendous player whose game does all the talking. Though, Peak may ultimately project as a small forward, at 6-foot-4 now, he has some things to work on to be a more solid prospect at the two. But he can slash, finish, shoot it and is a terror when he decides he wants to dominate. Peak is definitely the top player in South Carolina in this class at the time, but he isn't the priority for South Carolina that some thought he would be at this time.

Shelton Mitchell –Mitchell is a true point guard that is very heady. His basketball IQ is off the charts. He's only a 2014 kid playing with the CP3 16s, but he possesses the ability and savvy to play up if he wanted to. Mitchell continues to make a buzz about himself, and even though his team went 1-1 on the day, even in a loss, he still was sensational at times.

2015

P.J. Dozier – Son of former Gamecock Perry Dozier, and brother of current Gamecock Asia Dozier, P.J.'s name could solidify his name as the greatest Dozier of them all. As only a rising sophomore, P.J. has basketball gifts and smarts that make him an exceptional player. He also is still growing, and at 6-foot-4, he's still a point guard. Some say he could grow to be around his dad's height of about 6-7, which when you couple that with his high basketball IQ and his smart decision making, he could still be a point guard at that height. His biggest weakness right now is his strength, but with him being so young, that's not really something you can concern yourself with. Out of all the talent in the state, the Columbia native could have the highest ceiling of them all.

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