Horn stacks the deck at USC's "Elite Camp"

South Carolina head basketball coach Darrin Horn and his staff welcomed in around thirty top prospects on Sunday for the Gamecocks' annual Elite Basketball Camp. Read inside as GamecockAnthem.com's Josh Capers reports on several of the prospects who were in attendance.

South Carolina held its Elite Camp Sunday, and judging by the way they stacked one team, it was elite.

Although some major key players in the Gamecock recruiting game were not there, there were some heavy hitters involved that the South Carolina staff was able to wow while they had them on campus.

However, at an elite camp, you expect to see the elite players go at it. Instead, coach Darrin Horn took a different approach: he put the best of the best on one team, perhaps signaling to them the bigger picture of "what could be."

Staring the opponents in their face were Bruce Ellington, R.J. Slawson, Deuce Bello, Quincy Miller and Eric Smith.

Miller is a big-time name nationally, and he is ranked No. 7 overall by Scout.com in the 2011 class. Miller is a special talent as he continues to get longer — he stands about 6-foot-9 now — but yet maintains his wing-like skill set with a 7-foot wingspan. Having him on campus was big for the Gamecocks, as the Tar Heel State standout holds a scholarship offer already.

Also, a name that's new to the world of South Carolina would be Bello, Miller's AAU teammate with D-One Sports and future high school teammate. Bello is a four-star recruit who's regarded as the No. 40 overall player in the 2011 class, and is a talented wing. Bello does not hold an offer, but he will most likely be getting one in the near future.

The other three names have been synonymous with South Carolina all summer and beyond. Slawson, Ellington and Smith are all South Carolina natives who are arguably the top three in-state players in the 2010 class. Slawson (6-foot-8 forward from Fort Dorchester High) and Eric Smith (6-foot-1 point guard from Mullins) are committed, with Ellington looming on a decision. Many at the camp wondered why Horn put these players together out of about the 30 that were in attendance, while others were even more baffled by why he would put the two elite point guards on the same team.

Answer: To show them that it would work.

"Bruce and Eric looked real good together," said Steve Smith, Eric's father and former high school coach of All-American Raymond Felton at Latta High.

Instead of being discouraged by the move, Eric Smith bought into the concept.

"It was like we had played together before, I liked that group," the younger Smith said. "Me and Bruce played well together, we took turns pushing the ball up the court.

"I thought I was going to play against Bruce, but it worked out really good. We played really well together."

Horn took the initiative to coach that team himself, and outside of basketball, the attendees were shown video of how Horn's system works, along with drills and demonstrations from current South Carolina players.

"It was a good experience to get a feel for how things will be there when I get there," Smith said. "I got to see how I fit into the system and the way coach Horn coached. It felt really good.

"I think I fit perfectly into the system. He likes to play real fast and push the ball down the court before the defense could set up. He kept just saying ‘go.'"

Former Gamecock Joe Rhett was in attendance with his son, Malcolm.

"It was a pretty good game," Joe said. "I saw Eric Smith. I was really impressed with him. He's going to be alright."

The elder Rhett was impressed with a number of campers, with some other notable names in attendance being the clan from Charlotte: Anthony Gill (2010), Jervon Pressley (2011), Tony Menton (2011), Bernard Sullivan (2011) and Braxton Ogbueze (2012).

Out of these players, Anthony Gill is the only one with an offer, but the South Carolina staff is high on Sullivan and Pressley, so offers could come any time. The duo is also high on the Gamecocks. The 6-8 Gill impressed others in attendance with his rebounding and ability to run the floor. Ogbueze has been identified as a top target for his class and will be under careful surveillance. A pair of high school teammates of Ogbueze were in attendance as well.

Guards Marquis Rankin (2011) and Jacoby Davis (2011) made the trip from Charlotte to Columbia, but were not able to participate because of injuries. Rankin is an elite prospect ranked No. 16 overall in his class. Davis is a very capable guard, and could receive an offer in the near future, which would immediately put South Carolina among his top schools. The Gamecocks will battle the likes of Wake Forest and North Carolina to pull Rankin out of ACC country.

As far as kids right in Columbia already, the younger Rhett was one of the more solid performers

"(Malcolm) ran the floor pretty well," Joe Rhett said. "All the guys from Columbia played pretty well.

"He had a really good summer. When South Carolina saw him last year, he was coming off a knee injury, but he's jumping and running better than ever."

Joe spoke about other guys with area ties as well.

"Mike Green played pretty well," he said. "Corey Raley-Ross is going to be better than Brandis (Raley-Ross — his older brother and current South Carolina guard). He's very talented. He knows the game."

One player that Joe knew nothing about was Quincy Miller, but he knows now.

"He was really good," he said. "He was one of the most impressive guys out there, and he's young. He's going to be special."

Malcolm, who currently doesn't hold an offer but has real interest in South Carolina, loved the part of the camp where he got to just learn under Horn and his staff.

"I like the instructions and the college drills that they do," he said. "I think it'll help me a lot."

Eric Smith spoke out about his future teammate and recent Gamecock commit, Slawson.

"(Slawson) can run the floor, get easy shots," he said. "He stepped outside a little bit. He can do it all. I was looking forward to playing with him.

"I'm just really excited about my future."

Another player that was at the camp was re-classified big man Jaleel Roberts. The 6-foot-10 Roberts has been receiving interest from South Carolina for a while, but because of health issues last season and the lack of exposure, the former class of 2010 big man is now part of the 2011 class and is receiving notice from the South Carolina staff as he showed vast improvement at the camp. He still has a ways to go, but his improvement is a big step in the right direction for the big man from Georgia.

Roberts was at the camp last year, so he's seen changes in not only the program, but the camp itself.

"It was a good experience. it was good to come up there," he said. "This year, it was an upgrade."

Some notable names not in attendance were South Carolina 2010 targets Stacey Poole, Damontre Harris, Brian Richardson and Shane Southwell — all with offers. Richardson came down with a virus last week in Orlando at the AAU Nationals. It also prohibited the talented forward from playing much in front of the South Carolina staff while they were out for the final days of the recruiting period.

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