George Felton Excited About USC Hoops

Former USC basketball player and Head Coach George Felton returned to Columbia for the 100 Years of Gamecock Basketball Celebration. GamecockAnthem met with Felton to get his impressions on the future of the program as well as his memories of his time at USC. Read inside to get Felton's thoughts on the celebration, Carolina's efforts to reunite the past with the present, Eric Hyman, and more.

It is only appropriate that George Felton follow Bill Foster in this series, since he was the man that replaced Foster as head coach. After Coach Foster resigned as Men's Head Basketball Coach at USC, the school looked to one of its own to return it the glory days of Frank McGuire.

In five seasons as Head Coach at South Carolina, George Felton compiled an 87-62 record, which calculates into a .584 winning percentage. In the history of Gamecock Basketball, only Frank McGuire himself has a better winning percentage (.666) of any coach that roamed the sidelines for five years or more. Felton also made the NCAA for the first time in 15 years. By chance, Felton had been a player on the last team to make it.

He recalls fondly the team he coached at USC. "I have to say my best memory was when the team went to the NCAA tournament during my coaching career there. It had been almost 15 years since any team had gone to the NCAA postseason tournament. That was a huge highlight."

He went on to say, "I was actually a student-athlete on the last team that had been to the NCAA tournament, so that was kind of unique and special."

Returning to South Carolina for the reunion was very heartwarming for Felton. He enjoyed meeting with former players and coaches, and also enjoyed the family atmosphere that was involved in the festivities. Felton was highly complimentary and appreciative of the current administration for reaching out to all of those who have been involved with Gamecock Basketball over the years. "I thought the celebration went very well and was well planned out. I think that all that came left with a positive impression in terms of rekindling the past to the future.

"We also got some insight on (Athletic Director) Eric Hyman and what his plans are for the future of the program."

When asked what his thoughts were on Hyman's plans, he was very positive, saying, "I think anytime you can rekindle the Gamecock spirit and recognize our coach Frank McGuire and former players like John Roche, to me, I think that's a major step in the right direction.

"I also think it makes everyone feel much more a part of Gamecock basketball. I certainly think (Hyman's) presence, his involvement, and his accessibility during the entire weekend was very positive."

Felton was also very positive in his thoughts on the future of the program. He doesn't feel that there is anything limiting Carolina from competing at the highest level. With the facilities that are as good as anyone in the country, and the fan support, which he believes to be the strength of the program, he felt that USC has all of the pieces in place to turn the program around. "People lose sight of the fact that The University of South Carolina used to compete in one of the most competitive conferences in the nation, which was the ACC, and was very successful. If they could do that then, then why not (now)? We were competitive in a very tough Metro Conference while I was coach. Why can't we compete in a competitive SEC? That is my question."

Frank McGuire Arena was a special place to George Felton, as he both played and coached there. He spoke very highly of the atmosphere in the former home of Gamecock basketball. He loved the uniqueness of the design of ‘The Frank' and how the fans were so close to the action. Having said that, Felton was approving of the new facility. He felt it was necessary in order to compete, both in the SEC and nationally. His only concerns about The Colonial Center were the empty seats. "During my tenure there, we averaged (between) ten and eleven thousand a game. With its (Frank McGuire Arena) configuration, it gave us a great atmosphere.

"If you're looking into the future, you must stay competitive nationally and geographically in the southeast. So, if you look at the new facility, it's a positive. Now, the only negative is you're not filling it."

He did not seem too concerned about Carolina's ability to fill the arena in the future. Over and over, Felton was complimentary of the fan support at the university. He almost seemed surprised that the team had not had more success and that attendance has been an issue the last two seasons. For him, the solution is simple. Give the Gamecock faithful a team that wins and is exciting, and attendance issues will be a thing of the past. His message seems to be taken from Hollywood, "If you build it, they will come."

Asked about his impressions of new Gamecock Men's Head Basketball Coach Darrin Horn, Felton said, "I have met him a few times in my travels. He seems like a very intelligent young man with integrity. I'm sure he has a plan and appears to have already begun implementing it. He's a very hardworking person and I wish him all of the best."

Finally, Felton was given an opportunity to send a message to the Carolina fans. "My message will be forever continuous. I've always appreciated their loyalty, not just to me as a student-athlete and coach, but to all former players and coaches. They're the key to every successful program, whether it's football, basketball, or baseball. Their support, not only from a financial standpoint but also a physical standpoint - being at the games - is special. They've always been wonderful to me, and I appreciated it as a player and as a coach."

It there ever were any doubts about where Coach Felton's loyalties lie, this former student-athlete and coach made it clear he is a Gamecock through and through. When Felton says "we," he is speaking of the Gamecock nation. Here's a health, George Felton. Welcome home!

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