USC seniors looking to go out with a bang

USC guard Tre' Kelley and forward Brandon Wallace have been friends since the day they both set foot on campus.

Kelley recalled his first encounter with the lanky Wallace on move-in day. Loaded down with bags, Kelley asked Wallace as he walked out of the dorms if he was his teammate. Since then, the two have almost been inseparable.

"It's a great friendship we started off the court. We meshed right away," Kelley said. "I remember the first time we met. He was 6'10 and he looked about 175. I knew who he was right away. We've been around each other off the court too – the same classes, roommates, we go out to eat together - we really meshed together."

The most amazing factor of their friendship has to do with their backgrounds. Kelley grew up in inner Washington, D.C., while Wallace's rural background in Jackson, S.C. made for quite a different situation to come from.

"We are a lot alike," Wallace said. "He's a big city guy, and I am from a small town, but we are a lot alike. He is a fun guy. I'm a fun guy."

In their time together, USC has won two NIT titles and made a trip to the NCAA tournament. They've cracked the top 25 and sent two players on to professional basketball. Despite the struggles of their final season, Kelley and Wallace know that their friendship is what's most important.

"He's like a brother," Wallace said. "It's hard to describe. He's like a brother. Probably leaving Tre' will be harder than leaving USC, but he's a phone call away."

The third link in the senior chain arrived at Carolina two years later, but quickly became just another member of the team and another friend. Bryce Sheldon came to USC as a point and shoot player who quickly found himself adapting to life in Columbia.

"He was totally different than everyone at first," Wallace said of Sheldon. "He was a different character. He had to conform to our ways. He was very outgoing and a lot of us weren't."

Sheldon, a California native, had some adjusting to get used to.

"It's been life changing - meeting the guys I've met," Sheldon said. "Brandon and Tre' have become two of my best friends."

Kelley, who has become a more vocal leader this season, takes inspiration from Sheldon who blended in and always keeps his cool.

"He fits in well even though he's a white guy from California," Kelley said. "He doesn't lose control and is a great person to lead."

That bond has made the trio a force on the basketball court and has helped Carolina to a plethora of success. If USC wins the next three games, Wallace and Kelley would be the first four year players since 1981 to have a winning record all four years of their career.

"If we can play really well in the next three games and win at least 2 of them, hopefully 3, this class will be the first class to graduate in four years and have a winning record each of the four years - since 1981-82," USC coach Dave Odom said. "I am going to try very hard, our staff, our team is going to try very hard to make that dream a reality."

Odom has asked all fans to be in their seats at 6:30 p.m. with Senior Night festivities to start at 6:45 p.m. prior to the tip off with Ole Miss at 7 p.m.

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