Big man on campus: Geathers talks commitment

No sooner than one member of the Geathers family is leaving South Carolina for the NFL draft, another is preparing to start his college career on the hardwood. Look inside as Josh Capers has the story on 6-foot-11 Carver's Bay (S.C.) senior Carlton Geathers as Geathers and his head basketball coach discuss the center's game and his future.

Last summer, Carlton Geathers told his high school coach, Jeff Mezzatesta, "I don't deserve to get to go play with them if I can't contribute."

Now, the 6-foot-11, 260-pound big man will get his to play with "them."

Geathers has committed to play for South Carolina where he will get a chance to join the 2010 recruiting class, including Bruce Ellington and R.J. Slawson, who he was supposed to play AAU ball with over the summer before he broke his knee. He had a chance to travel with the team, but the humble senior from Carvers Bay (Hemingway, S.C.) did not want to partake if he couldn't contribute to the team.

However, Geathers expresses joy about getting to play with them now.

"I'm very excited," he said. "I'm just ready to get on the ball, and I'm just ready to play basketball."

Geathers will send his Letter of Intent on Wednesday, the first day of the late signing period.

Besides South Carolina natives Slawson (combo forward) and Ellington (point guard), he will join one more South Carolina native as well, Eric Smith (point guard) — who played his senior year in North Carolina. Rounding out the class are also two more players from North Carolina, Damontre Harris (power forward/center) and Brian Richardson (wing). Also joining the class next year on the court will be Nevada transfer Malik Cooke (small forward).

Geathers, the lone late signee, might have the most to work on, but he's proven to be coachable.

"Going into the 11th grade summer, he stayed out and played on the perimeter and didn't realize what his strengths were," Jeff Mezzatesta. "He let me work with him and let me mold him. After a little bit of time, he was molding. By the end of the summer, he was drop stepping and dunking."

Geathers transferred into Carvers Bay during his sophomore year, so he sat out that year, and after his junior year, he had to sit out of basketball completely for eight months, so he's still a bit raw, but he has a lot of upside.

"He's still a project, but he's not done growing. He's going to be over 7-foot. He hasn't really touched a weight this year because of his knee," Mezzatesta continued. "Carlton's very smart. He might not get there as quick as he needs to, but that comes with the game. He's only played two years of varsity basketball."

Geathers lead his team in rebounds (6.9) and blocks (4.9), and he was the second-leading scorer at 10 points a game. He also had four triple-doubles on the year with the aforementioned statistical categories and had more blocks than the rest of his team combined.

"I'm more of a defensive player," Geathers admitted of his game at this point.

That defense landed him the first division-1 scholarship in school history according to Mezzatesta.

However, he's not the only coach happy for Geathers.

"(South Carolina coach Darrin Horn) was excited too," Geathers said, who boasts a 7-2 wing span. "He just talked to me about working hard and my upside. And if I just work hard, I have a lot of potential."

Geathers committed to the South Carolina coaching staff over the weekend when he took his official visit to the school.

His coach was very upfront about the type of young man his star center was on and off the court.

"Carlton does not like attention," Mezzatesta said. "He understands being part of the team. He'll take all of the focus off himself and put it on another kid. That'll make the team better, and that's what's good about Carlton. He's a ‘we-first' kid. It's almost detrimental sometimes because it doesn't get him the attention."

He admits that the lack of attention upsets him as a coach, but he expects not only big things from Geathers, but also from the South Carolina program as a whole.

"This group of kids, with the coaching staff, has the chance to make South Carolina special," he said.

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