Q&A: Horn talks newcomers, previews season

USC men's basketball Coach Darrin Horn met with the media on Wednesday, previewing the upcoming season as well as talking about the four newcomers on the South Carolina basketball team - Ramon Galloway, Lakeem Jackson, Johndre Jefferson, and Stephen Spinella. Read inside for a full transcript from Horn's Wednesday press conference.

Question: How have the newcomers done so far in offseason workouts?

Horn: "They've been good. We're real early in the process and doing a lot of really basic stuff, whether it's just the conditioning or on the court. They've all acclimated well, and it's been an adjustment for them just like it is for all new guys. But I think the thing you're going to see from these kids is what we expected, good athleticism, great effort, and good character every time out. And that's really all you can ask for."

Question: Coach, what kind of impact do you think these freshman can make on the team?

Horn: "I think we need them all to impact in the sense that they're contributing, because a big part of what we do is having depth and having athleticism and we need them all to do that just from a sheer numbers standpoint."

Question: Have you been able to get the whole team out yet, or is it just restricted in numbers up until the 15th?

Horn: "No, we were able to get, I think it was last week, the whole team out. We still only have two hours a week, but the rules allow us to use those two hours on the court however we want. We're still doing some smaller groups with some skill work and defensive breakdowns, but we did bring everybody together last week for the first game."

Question: Talk about Lakeem Jackson as a player and what you expect from him early on.

Horn: "Well, I think that attention (he receives from fans and media) is for a couple of reasons. One, he is the guy that physically jumps out at you the most with the new guys. He's 6'5'' 225 pounds, he's SEC ready physically, and I think the other thing is that he's won big. He's from a program that has had great success, that has been nationally ranked. You take those two things, and of course those are going to stand out. I think that he's a guy that's going to help us because of the athleticism that he brings and he's extremely hungry. He's got a terrific work ethic, and he's a guy as I've said before and you'll hear me say again, he's won. And those are the kind of guys we want in our program, that I really think can help make a difference."

Question: Is this the kind of class that moves you forward, that keeps you pushing forward as you start your second year?

Horn: "You hope every year does that. I had an old coach tell me one time that you've got to sign better players every year. You know in theory that's great, (but) it doesn't always happen. But I think that this class is without question a step in that direction, especially when you look to what we're trying to build, and you assess what our needs were in the class and then maybe most importantly with the way that we play. We've got versatility, we've got athleticism, we have length with these guys, and you know, that helps."

Question: If Dominique Archie and Devan Downey had made different decisions, you probably would have had to lean on these guys a lot more than you might have to this year. So do you have that luxury now of kind of bringing them along steadily and teaching them the right way without having to rush them in?

Horn: "I don't know if we'll treat it like that necessarily. You know we're going to throw them in there and treat them like we need them and let them find their ways. I think one of the strengths we have as a coaching staff is if you can help us win you're going to play. We don't care what year you are or how much you have played. So we're going to give them that opportunity for sure. That being said, do we feel better about having two fifth year seniors back? No question."

Question: What kind of shooting range do these four guys have?

Horn: "You know, they all shoot the ball differently. (Center) Johndre (Jefferson) actually can shoot the ball a little bit, which is not something that we had anticipated at all. I think when you see him in person here in a minute you're going to see why he's here. He's incredibly long, and in terms of moving his feet and running is about as good as it gets for a guy 6'9'' or 6'10''. Spinella has terrific range and is a good shooter. Ramon Galloway does as well. I think Lakeem Jackson is a guy that shoots the ball much better than he's been given credit for. But again our concern is everybody doing what they do well. The biggest thing that we need from these guys is their length and their athleticism and their energy."

Question: Is Galloway going to give you your first ball handler off the bench to spell Devan, or are you going to go with Brandis, or sort of spread it around?

Horn: "You know I think, yes. (Laughs) I think that's something that, all of those kind of questions, there's no way to answer until we get into practice and see how they do and when we start playing. Our basic premise in general is that if you can handle our own pressure, you should be able to handle somebody else's. You know, we'll just have to see how they all react to that."

Question: Do you think Steve Spinella is a guy who may have been overlooked by a lot of people?

Horn: "Yeah, you know, again we want guys that can play, period. I think a lot of times kids get categorized in that they can't do this and they can't do that. For us, we just want to know if you can play. And he's a guy that is 6'4'' first of all, so you talk about a guy that has really good size for his position, does shoot the ball extremely well, and is much more athletic than probably he's been given credit for. So how many people in the country would like to have a 6'4'' guy that has good athleticism that can knock down shots? We think we got a really good player, and maybe as with all of the guys that we recruited, a guy that's just going to continue to get better."

Question: Coach, when they're freshmen, are you accepting any extra responsibilities as far as helping them with their socialization to the whole college process?

Horn: "I don't know that we necessarily give them any from our end. But I think it's an adjustment for all of them, and I think it's the work load more than anything. We've got a couple of these guys that come from outstanding high school programs, and there's just a big difference between working hard in high school and working hard in college. Going against a good teammate in high school and going against Dominique Archie and Devan Downey and Sum Muldrow, it's just different. It's an adjustment period for them, and there will be another one, you know the first phase is sort of getting into school and workouts and all that. There will be another one when practice starts, and there will be another one when we get into the season. There will be another after that to get through the season, you know when February or late January and February hit, it's part of the process."

Question: Looking back to last year, do you think depth was an issue at any point in time, and do you think this corrects that if it was an issue?

Horn: "I mean, I think that you always want more depth when you can, and we would've loved to have more last year. Was it an issue in terms of how we performed with wins or losses? I don't know that I would say that because I think you adjust to whatever it is that you have. I think what depth for us this year will hopefully allow us to do is maybe play a little bit more the way we want to play and be a little bit more creative with some lineups and possibly rest guys differently. And maybe not even more. You know, is Devan Downey going to go from right around thirty minutes a game to twenty because we have depth? Probably not, we're probably going to keep an All-American on the floor as much as we can, but are we going to be able to rest him differently? Maybe we can, so again those are all things that we'll get more data as we move forward. But that's the hope you have when you move forward with some added guys."

Question: With about six weeks to go before the opener, is everybody on track to be eligible and ready to play?

Horn: "Yes."

Question: Is everybody healthy?

Horn: "Yes. Today." (Laughs)

Question: Is there any correlation between being successful in the classroom and being successful in basketball?

Horn: "Absolutely, without question. We believe that the more focused somebody is and committed to being excellent at everything they do, you know, more is going to show up maybe in the area they really want. That gets into sort of the big picture theory of what we hopefully teach our young people while they're here. And that it's really hard to compartmentalize your life, so to speak and you know, we see a direct correlation, because really it's just a sign of maturity. As a coach, my favorite thing to do is to be with our players and be on the court and be in the games. If you look at the percentage of time that we get to spend doing that, it's a small percentage. We have to do a lot of things that maybe aren't our favorite things to do but are important for us to be successful, (an) important part of our responsibilities. I think that as that message gets through and young people buy into that, you can see that with increased one, comes the other."

Question: Are you trying to start Midnight Madness or anything with the students prior to the start of the season?

Horn: "We'll do a student practice, just for the students, at the Strom again. Because they're such a big part of what we do. They're part of who we are, actually, and part of our team. I think one of the really cool things about last Thursday night, besides winning, was to watch the student crowd. It almost looked like you'd taken the basketball arena and enlarged it. They are so important to all of our teams and what we do, so we'll definitely do that. We have a Ladies Clinic scheduled for November 7th already here at the practice facility, I think it's starts at 9 a.m. So some of those things are already set, and we're looking forward to them."

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