New Players (rankings from PrepStars)
Renaldo Balkman 6-7 Freshman #73 ranked
Josh Gonner 6-2 Transfer from Hutchinson (KN) CC
Paulius Joneliunas 6-10 Freshman Unranked
Tre Kelly 6-1 Freshman #194 ranked
Brandon Wallace 6-9 Freshman #99 ranked
(1) Size. The 6-9 Rolando Howell returns to play the high post. Paulius Joneliunas, a native of Lithuania who played at Roanake (VA) Catholic HS, is 6-10 and weights 260 lbs, and is the likely starter at low post. Brandon Wallace is a slender 6-9 wing player. Carlos Powell (6-7) amd Kerbrell Brown (6-8) are both 220-pounders who play shooting forward and high post. John Chappell is 6-10 and weight 235, but is unlikely to play much.
(2) Experience. There are eight returning players, but only Howell, Powell, Brown, and Michael Boynton (6-2) are likely to contribute much. Kinsey (6-6) is as thin as a rail. Gerald (6-1) is a point guard, but showed a distinct lack of confidence as a freshman. Marcus Morrison (6-6) and Chappell have played very little.
(3) Coaching. Head Coach Dave Odom always does a fine job with the material that he has. Last year the Gamecocks were plagued with injuries, including the loss of center Marius Petravicius after ten games, which largely accounts for their disappointing overall record of 12-16 (5-11 in conference play).
(1) Point guard? Michael Boynton has not distinguished himself in his three years on the team. Jarod Gerald doesn't look like the answer. Freshman Tre Kelly, from Dunbar HS in Washington DC, may be the best bet.
(2) Outside shooting? Powell and Brown both hit only about 30% of their three-point shots last year. Wallace is said to be "a fine shooter." Balkman is noted mainly as a defender. Kelly was a big scorer in high school. Gonner was an excellent three-point marksman at Hutchinson CC.
(3) Who will replace Chuck Eidson? Eidson was certainly the best player on the team last year, the team leader and play-maker, and a strong contributor to scoring and rebounding. His leadership is sure to be missed.
Overall Prospects for 2003-04
The Gamecocks will mainly depend on Howell, Powell, Brown, Joneliunas, Kelly, and Wallace. They will struggle and another round of injuries, such as plagued them last year, would be disastrous. It looks as though they are headed for a sixth-place finish in the Eastern Division, and no post-season invitation.