Jefferson Loves South Carolina

South Carolina head basketball coach Darrin Horn has been on the lookout for a talented JUCO big-man to help round out his class of 2009. Has the National Coach of the Year finalist found the player he is looking for? Read inside as has the full story on a talented JUCO forward originally from Santee, SC.

Growing up in Santee, SC 6-9, 210 pound forward Johndre Jefferson says he started pulling for the Gamecocks while he attended Lake Marion High School.

The long, lean post player has spent the last year and a half at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, FL honing his skills under Coach Bruce Stewart. But he could be returning home soon.

"They're my No. 1 school right now," Jefferson says of the Gamecocks.

Jefferson picked up an offer from Horn and the Gamecocks when he visited Columbia for the Citadel game in December.

"I think he's really turned the program around in such a short time," Jefferson said of Horn. "He's got them looking at an SEC East Championship and it's just his first year being head coach."

Jefferson will make a return trip to South Carolina this week and will be in attendance for South Carolina's showdown with Tennessee Thursday that will help determine if USC wins that championship.

"Yeah, it's going to be an exciting game to watch," he says. "And hopefully they're going to pull it out and give South Carolina that dominant [win], that road they need to the [NCAA] tournament."

The official visit will last from Wednesday until Friday afternoon. He says he is hoping to spend more time with the USC staff, and just simply enjoy himself.

"I think (Horn) as a coach and the rest of his staff are incredible," he says. "I've already developed a close relationship with every coach he has out there. I just like all the things he's doing with the program."

While on the visit, Jefferson is also hoping to learn more about USC's business school. But as far as the basketball program is concerned, he says there's not much else for him to learn.

"I'm liking at who all they're bringing in [in this recruiting class]," he said. "I've been keeping up with everything. He's pretty much got everything laid out for me, and I understand everything completely."

Jefferson, who averaged 9 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks a game this season, says he loves the fact that he can come in and contribute early at South Carolina.

"(Horn) tells me I will be an immediate impact player within what they're trying to do, because I fit his style of play perfectly."

Jefferson describes himself as a good player around the rim, and as a good shot-blocker and rebounder. He compares himself to current USC sophomore Sam Muldrow. The two battled it out in the lower-state playoffs their senior seasons in high school when Muldrow was at Wilson High School in Florence.

"I've seen it. He's making tremendous strides," Jefferson said of Muldrow's development under Horn. "He's a more complete player."

Jefferson also has offers from Missouri and Mercer, as well as interest from LSU, Mississippi State and Alabama. He plans to take a visit to Mississippi State or Missouri in the next three weeks before making a decision. But he says South Carolina fans don't have much to worry about.

"It will be tough for another school to take me away from South Carolina," he said. "I'm just looking at what role I'm going to play in the system at other schools and I'm going to compare them."

Finally, Jefferson wanted to send a message to USC fans.

"Like I said, I'm really excited to be coming down for a visit. Hopefully, everything works out where I'll be a Gamecock next year."

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