USC Signees Make Statement As State Champions

On an evening when the Knicks' Renaldo Balkman, the ghost of what could have been, was recording 13 points and 12 rebounds against the Hawks in Atlanta, and the current Gamecock team was struggling to a disappointing 52-61 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge, the hope for the future was on the USC home floor at the South Carolina High School State Basketball Championships, played at the Colonial Center.

Michael Holmes, the star post player for Lee Central, was defending last year's state championship title, and Wilson High's Sam Muldrow was denying Greenville High their defense of a state title.

Holmes started the excitement with his 20-point, 20-rebound afternoon, that included thunder dunks, 3 pointers and acrobatic finishes. The 6-7 USC signee even spent time displaying his defensive abilities, with 5 blocks, 4 steals and 2 charges created, pinning the first shot of the game high on the glass to set the tone for the type of evening one could expect. Another attribute was his unselfishness on four fast-break situations where Michael had a clear size advantage. He displayed his court vision and team awareness with crisp, and in two cases, behind-the-head, "no-look" passes that dazzled even USC transfer Devan Downey, his point guard in waiting, who was court side cheering his future teammate to victory.

Muldrow, who was not to be over-shadowed, posted 30 points, 19 rebounds and 9 blocks. This future 6-9 Gamecock placed an exclamation mark on his love for his future home court late in the ballgame, being closely guarded 40 feet from the basket by Greenville's Power Forward, Anthony Breeze, a Coastal Carolina signee. Sam put the ball on the floor, sliding by Breeze and the Greenville defense, to ignite the crowd with a towering dunk that started one stride inside the foul line. Sam's post moves were a very refreshing display of fundamental finishes, keeping the ball above the defense, and finding ways to get the ball on the glass when fouled during shot attempts in the paint. The result: three 3-point plays the old fashion way.

Both players displayed tremendous poise and team leadership when their respective teams were faced with strong runs from capable opponents, but for Southside (27-2), Holmes proved to be too much when he received a little help from Jermaine Wells and Willie Roger with late, but timely shots that helped extend a close margin throughout the game. On the other hand, Muldrow was never alone. 6-7 Dominique Lacy added 20 points and 9 rebounds. This tremendous athlete will sneak out of state unnoticed to UNC Wilmington, but he was clearly an athletic force to make doubling Muldrow a near impossibility.

Zam "Buck" Fredrick, another USC transfer, was on hand and had a lot to cheer about as well. His father, former USC great Zam Fredrick Sr., won his 6th state title in 12 years with the final five coming in the last 8 years, not to mention the three runner-up years that Coach Fredrick doesn't like to remember.

While the current season appears demoralizing, the future of USC looks bright. With the addition of young talent coming in with tremendous athleticism and winning traditions in their recent past, Gamecock fans have much to look forward to in the coming years.

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