Horn announces changes

South Carolina men's basketball coach Darrin Horn met with the media Wednesday morning to discuss what's going on in the summer with the Gamecock basketball program. Among the topics Horn spoke on is the fact center Mitchell Carter will not return to the team for next season. He also spoke on the hiring of a new director of basketball operations and an assistant coach.

South Carolina men's basketball coach Darrin Horn isn't sure if Devan Downey and Dominique Archie will withdraw their name for the NBA Draft pool and return to school. But after a conversation with junior Mitchell Carter on Tuesday, Horn is sure Carter won't be coming back.

The two parties have agreed to mutually part ways as the 6-10, 270-pound player will look to continue his collegiate career elsewhere. The departure of Carter opens a scholarship for the Gamecocks who also have a conditional scholarship with guard Robert Wilder giving them two open roster spots.

"Mitch and I had a chance to visit and talk about his future here and his opportunity to continue to contribute and really just felt like, came to an agreement that he would have a better opportunity to finish his career stronger as a major contributor somewhere else and still do well academically and definitely get a college degree," Horn said.

In 20 appearances last season, Carter averaged 1.1 points and 0.6 rebounds. His best outing came against NC Central when he scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds. Horn and his staff could fill the slot before the end of the spring signing period although they don't have any potential players in mind yet.

"We're always recruiting. We're never against taking another guy that we think can help our program. If you look at our scholarship situation it's not like we freed up a scholarship, we've got one open right now," Horn said. "We have another one with Rob Wilder's depended on what happens with that and we were up front with him about that from the beginning."

Horn also announced the addition of a new director of basketball operations as well as the promotion of an assistant coach. L.J. Hepp has been hired as the director of basketball operations. The former Stanford assistant and UNC graduate assistant comes to Columbia after serving as the head coach at Panther Creek High School in Cary, N.C. He was named 2009 Tri-8 Conference Coach of the Year after guiding his team to a 28-3 record.

"We're really excited about him. He brings a wealth of experience for what he is going to be doing in that position and really above and beyond that," Horn said. "He's been a head coach at the high school level, run his own program, he's been a Division I assistant at Stanford on an NCAA tournament team. He graduated from that other school that sounds like us, the not-real Carolina."

Horn also announced he had promoted Neill Berry to a full-time assistant coaching position with the Gamecocks after the departure of Scott Cherry.

"Neill Berry was promoted who I think is a star in our business. There's no doubt he's going to be a head coach at a high level and someone that I have a tremendous amount of faith and respect and trust in," Horn said. "We're really excited about him being in a full time slot and we're really thrilled about the job he's doing for us in recruiting."

Along with the additions of the new staffers, Horn and the athletic department continue to tinker with the schedule for next season. The Gamecocks are already scheduled to play in a tournament at the College of Charleston but that has been the only addition to the schedule this off season.

Horn said attempts to add upper level competition have been made but no avail thus far and that he hoped to have more information within the next three weeks.

"Don't really have anything concrete that we can give you above and beyond what we've done already. We did announce the tournament. We feel like that's something that's going to help us, give us an opportunity to play some good teams on a neutral floor," Horn said. "It's an issue of logistics. It's an issue of getting people to play. We've called a ton of, whatever you want to call them, BCS, high major, whatever schools and we're getting a lot of not even return calls. Maybe their waiting to see what happens with the draft. I don't know."

While the team continues to sort out next season's schedule, Horn is still awaiting word on the final decision of juniors Devan Downey and Dominique Archie as to their intentions with the NBA Draft. Both players are attempting to schedule individual workouts with teams since there are no pre-draft camps anymore.

"They're in the process now of moving forward with that process in terms of the draft, getting evaluated and trying to set up workouts," Horn said. "It's an unusual process because of how it works. And I think that's true of everybody. You've got NBA teams right now that are still playing. They're not real worried about trying to get workouts done. They're worried about how to stop the other team and advance in the playoffs. It's kind of a process that's a little all over the place but we're starting to move forward with that. And hopefully those guys will get some workouts and we'll get some feedback and see where they are."

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