2010 Hoops Signing Class: Breaking It Down

Below is an evaluation of the five basketball prospects that signed their Letter of Intent to attend the University of South Carolina on Wednesday. Along with each evaluation will be a quote from South Carolina coach Darrin Horn that breaks down each player.

Damontre Harris (4-Star, No. 40 overall)

School: Trinity Christian School (Fayetteville, N.C.)

Height: 6-foot-9

Position Rank: No. 11 Center

List of Offers: South Carolina, Florida, Wake Forest, VCU, Xavier and Maryland.

2009 Statistics: 10 points, 10 rebounds and 4.6 blocks.

Evaluation: The foundation of Horn's class, Harris will likely step right in and be expected to contribute early with the lack of bigs South Carolina will have - he and Slawson will be the only two returning big men for the Gamecocks going into their sophomore year at this time. Luckily for South Carolina, Harris has the biggest ceiling of any player in the class. He's very long (7-foot-3 wingspan) and athletic and runs the floor very well. He can step out and knock down jumpers, and he can also put it on the floor a little bit and attack the rim. Harris thrives at rebounding and blocking shots. He's very active around the rim. He's just starting to tap into his offensive potential, though he'll have to add strength to go along with skill, but the potential for Harris is off the charts.

Horn on Harris: "Damontre was the only big that we targeted in this class. He is the prototype big man that we want in our program in that he is long, athletic and versatile enough to play inside and out. Damontre's basketball future is very bright."

Bruce Ellington (4-Star, No. 48 overall)

School: Berkeley High School (Moncks Corner, S.C.)

Height: 5-foot-10

Position Rank: No. 12 Point Guard

List of Offers: Carolina over Clemson, Tennessee, Miami (Fla.), Kansas, Georgia Tech and Auburn.

2009 Statistics: 28.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists

Evaluation: Ellington is lightning quick with the ball and can really push a team. His ability to get in the lane is outstanding and he finds teammates well or finishes well when he gets there. He's a two-sport star with 4.4 speed. As primarily a football player growing up, Ellington developed strength that most players at this level don't have. He's an excellent defender and can really jump. In workouts, Ellington was taking off from around the foul line and dunking. Ellington will have to become more consistent in his jump shot and just learn the game a little bit better as basketball was not his primary sport for several years. Once he fully grasps running a team at the next level, Ellington could be an all-conference type guard in the SEC.

Horn on Ellington: "Bruce is a special athlete who will thrive in our system because of his speed and ability to make plays. In addition to his athletic talent, his greatest quality may be that he has been a proven winner in everything that he does."

R.J. Slawson (4-Star, No. 69 overall)

School: Fort Dorchester High School (Charleston, S.C.)

Height: 6-foot-8

Position Rank: No. 15 Power Forward

List of Offers: South Carolina, Clemson, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia Tech.

2009 Statistics: 20.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 2.3 assists.

Evaluation: Slawson is a combo forward that's just starting to emerge like many players in this Gamecock class. He's got the height of a low-post player, but he's more of a combo forward than a power forward with his ability to shoot the 3. Slawson shot 43 percent from behind the arc last year, and he also has the ability to put it on the floor and take his man to the basket or set up another teammate. Slawson is slender, and will definitely need to put on some weight, but his height on the perimeter will still be hard to match up with. Like many players that fit the South Carolina style of play, his versatility will be a matchup problems for opposing teams, but Slawson will need to become more aggressive as he enters the next level.

Horn on Slawson: "R.J. is a unique player because he is a perimeter guy that because of his size, can also play inside and finish at the rim, rebound and block shots. At 6-8, we think he is going to be a tough matchup, and will excel in our style of play."

Brian Richardson (3-Star)

School: Greenfield School (Wilson, N.C.)

Height: 6-foot-5

Position Rank: No. 48 Shooting Guard

List of Offers: South Carolina, Alabama and Auburn.

2009 Statistics: 22 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds.

Evaluation: Though Richardson is not as highly touted as some of the other players in the class, his importance is just as big. Richardson's versatility will allow the Gamecocks to move him around to three positions if need be — point guard, shooting guard and small forward. Richardson will be most properly served out on the wing though, where he can allow his talents to shoot the 3 to relish. He shot above 40 percent from behind the arch as a junior, and his ability to shoot will stretch defenses in Horn's system. Richardson will definitely need to add strength to be effective at the next level, but his skill set is solid for Horn's system. He's not super athletic, but he's definitely athletic enough to run in Horn's system.

Horn on Richardson: "Brian brings a lot of basketball IQ and ability to the table. In addition to being long and athletic, he is an outstanding shooter with a high skill level that will provide us another perimeter threat."

Eric Smith (3-Star)

School: Christ School (Arden, N.C.)

Height: 6-foot-0

Position Rank: N/A

List of Offers: South Carolina, Clemson and Auburn.

2009 Statistics: 20 points and 8 assists (at Mullins High).

Evaluation: A lot of people are uncertain of what Smith can do, and took it as a knock on him when South Carolina took another point guard with Bruce Ellington when Smith was already committed. That's not the case here. Everything that Ellington is, Smith is. Ellington is a little quicker, but Smith's shot is much more advanced at this juncture. Smith has a solid all-around game as he is a quick, heady player and a solid scorer. A lot of doubts are being squashed as he has had big games against two of the premier guards in the country so far this season, Stargell Love and Ian Miller. Smith's ceiling isn't as high as some, but he uses his tools well. Just like Ellington, Smith is a strong guard, but he'll have to work on his stamina and conditioning to be a contributor late in games.

Horn on Smith: "Eric will always be special to our program because he was our first instate commitment. He combines all of the attributes we want in a student-athlete. He has outstanding ability, high character and strong academic performance. His speed, physical strength and ability to shoot the ball will be an asset for us."

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