2009 WPDE Mister Hoop Zone Eric Smith is one of four players from the University of South Carolina men's basketball team who has been granted a release from Frank Martin to transfer from the Gamecocks. The point guard out of Mullins averaged 5.7 points and 3.1 assists per game. He averaged 27.7 minutes a game in his junior season, nearly doubling his minutes from his first two years in Columbia and had a career high 17 points in the Gamecocks win over Morgan State in November. Smith is on track to graduate from USC in three years following the completion of summer school courses. WPDE Sports has confirmed that Eric is choosing between Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina.
Smith is leaving the Gamecocks program along with Damien Leonard, RJ Slawson and Brian Richardson. The Gamecocks were 14-18 and a disappointing 4-14 in SEC play. Martin has signed five new players, but 2013 WPDE Mister Hoop Zone Jaylen Shaw of Hartsville is not on that list. Shaw gave a verbal commitment to play for Martin and the Gamecocks just before the spring signing period began. Shaw will sign his national letter of intent on Thursday, May 2nd at Hartsville's state championship ceremony. He told WPDE Sports "I'll be a Gamecock for sure".
Here's the press release from the University of South Carolina:
COLUMBIA, S.C. - University of South Carolina head men's basketball coach Frank Martin announced today the addition of three signees, Demetrius Henry (F/C - 6-9 - 210 - Miami, Fla. - Faith Baptist Christian School (Brandon, Fla.)), Duane Notice (G - 6-2 - 200 - Woodbridge, Canada - St. Thomas More (Oakdale, Conn.)) and Reggie Theus Jr. (F - 6-6 - 190 - Los Angeles, Calif. - Fairfax), who join early period signees Desmond Ringer (F/C - 6-9 - 260 - McDonough, Ga. - Eagle's Landing), Justin McKie (G - 6-4 - 180 - Columbia, S.C. - Irmo) and Sindarius Thornwell (G - 6-5 - 180 - Lancaster, S.C. - Oak Hill Academy) and semester addition Tyrone Johnson (G - 6-3 - 202 - Plainfield, N.J. - Montrose Christian/Villanova). Johnson, who will be eligible following the first semester of the 2013-14 campaign, will have two years of eligibility remaining, and each of the other signees will have four years of eligibility beginning in the fall.
In addition, Martin also announced four members of the 2012-13 squad who will not return next season.
"After our team's end of the season meetings, Damien Leonard, Eric Smith, RJ Slawson and Brian Richardson have decided to ask for their release and will not be with the team moving forward," Martin stated. "We want to thank them for being tremendous representatives for the University, the Athletics Department and the men's basketball team. We fully support them and wish them the best moving forward."
Below is a brief capsule and quote from Martin on each incoming signee (in alphabetical order by last name):
Demetrius Henry (F/C - 6-9 - 210 - Miami, Fla. - Faith Baptist Christian School (Brandon, Fla.))
Fifth-year senior at Faith Baptist Christian School in Brandon, Fla. ... Hometown is Miami, Fla. ... Played high school basketball at Northeast High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. ... Averaged 18.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game during prep school season at Faith Baptist ... Rated a four-star recruit from Rivals.com and the No. 100 overall prospect, No. 119 overall recruit according to 247sports.com, No. 92 overall prospect and No. 20 forward according to Scout.com and the No. 33 power forward according to ESPN.com.
Martin on Henry:
"Demetrius Henry is a fifth-year senior. He's older, mature and has had a chance to evolve as a player over the last five years. I'm excited about the toughness and the rebounding that he brings to our team. He brings much needed size to our front line."
Tyrone Johnson (G - 6-3 - 202 - Plainfield, N.J. - Montrose Christian/Villanova)
A rising junior guard who will be eligible in December following the first semester of the 2013-14 campaign ... Transferred to South Carolina from Villanova in January of 2013 ... Drew nine starts during the 2011-12 season when he averaged 3.3 points per game and compiled 65 assists (2.0 per game) ... Posted a season-high 14 points in an overtime contest vs. Connecticut ... At Montrose Christian, helped lead squad to the ESPN Rise 2011 National High School Invitational ... Scored 21 points, including all 11 of his free throw attempts, to help spark Montrose past Oak Hill Academy 71-64 in overtime to the crown in the nationally televised finale ... Was named the tournament's MVP ... A first-team All-Metro choice by the Washington Post ... Montrose finished with a 24-1 record ... Attended Montrose from Plainfield (N.J.) High School, where he averaged 18.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.2 steals as a junior in 2009-10 ... Was a teammate of rising sophomore Michael Carrera at Montrose Christian.
Martin on Johnson:
"Tyrone won a national championship as a high school player at Montrose Christian. He has represented the United States in international basketball, and we're extremely excited that he joined our team back in January. He has taken full advantage of his redshirt time to become best friends with strength coach Scott Greenawalt to work on his game and to get himself as ready as possible for when his number is called on December 16th. He brings an unbelievable ability to pass the basketball and, is a big strong guard that fits the personnel that we need so that we can have success playing Gamecock basketball moving forward."
Justin McKie (G - 6-4 - 180 - Columbia, S.C. - Irmo)
Native of Irmo, S.C., who led his high school squad to the State Championship at Colonial Life Arena in the spring of 2013 with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the victory ... Named the Gatorade South Carolina Boys' Basketball Player of the Year in 2013 and also South Carolina Mr. Basketball after Irmo finished his senior campaign with a 29-0 record ... Averaged 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game during senior season ... Rated as the No. 4 player in the state of South Carolina by ESPN.com ... Son of Gamecock great BJ McKie, Carolina's all-time leading scorer (2,119).
Martin on McKie (at the time of his signing in November 2012):
"With his name alone, it should give people an understanding of the kind of bloodlines that he has. Justin loves to win, and he is coached by Tim Whipple, one of the great coaches in the country, not just in high school basketball or in this state. In my seven months here, Justin has improved as much as any player that I have watched. We really like his toughness, his ability to play defense in a system that is similar to ours and his length and size on the perimeter. He is someone that, as we move forward, we think he is definitely a great part of building a championship program."
Duane Notice (G - 6-2 - 200 - Woodbridge, Canada - St. Thomas More (Oakdale, Conn.))
Played one season at St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn., where he averaged 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists ... Rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com and ESPN.com ... Rated as the No. 4 Canadian prospect according to Northpolehoops.com ... Named NEPSAC (New England Preparatory School Athletic Council) First-Team All-New England and was a runner-up for Player of the Year.
Martin on Notice:
"After having tremendous success playing in his native country of Canada, Duane did a post-grad year playing at St. Thomas More for coach Carey Quinn, one of the most respected and professional coaches. Duane is an unbelievable competitor, once again 6'2", 200 pounds that gives us much needed size and strength at the guard spot. Duane brings tremendous skill along with an unbelievable competitiveness."
Desmond Ringer (F/C - 6-9 - 260 - McDonough, Ga. - Eagle's Landing)
Helped lead Eagle's Landing to first-ever state championship in 2013, scoring 17 points and collecting 14 rebounds in the title game ... Named to the Georgia Sportswriters Honorable Mention Team ... A three-star prospect by both ESPN.com and Rivals.com ... Ranked as the No. 7 player in the state of Georgia by ESPN.com.
Martin on Ringer (at the time of his signing in November 2012):
"Desmond Ringer gives us size, strength, athleticism and skill on the front line. He comes from a very successful high school program, and we're excited to have him be part of our family. He is a guy that understands how to play, and he has great size and real good hands. Desmond is someone that we feel will become a big-time presence on the front line for many years to come."
Reggie Theus Jr. (F - 6-6 - 190 - Los Angeles, Calif. - Fairfax)
A member of the varsity squad at Fairfax since his freshman season ... A two-star prospect by Rivals.com and a three-star from 247sports.com... Named First-Team All-League by the LA Times as a senior when he averaged nearly 18.0 points per game ... Son of Reggie Theus, former NBA player and coach of the Sacramento Kings and New Mexico State, and the current head coach at Cal State Northridge.
Martin on Theus:
"He is a big, 6'6" wing who has improved by leaps and bounds over the last two years throughout his high school career. Once again, like the previous guys, he plays for one of the winningest programs in the state of California. After completing the season, we felt that we needed to continue to improve our length and our size on the perimeter, and Reggie gives us that."
Sindarius Thornwell (G - 6-5 - 180 - Lancaster, S.C. - Oak Hill Academy)
Helped lead Oak Hill Academy to 33-5 record during senior season ... A four-star prospect according to ESPN.com and the top rated player in the state of South Carolina ... Rated the No. 39 overall prospect in the 2013 class by ESPN.com ... A four-star recruit by Rivals.com and 247sports.com... Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 43 overall prospect and No. 11 shooting guard.
Martin on Thornwell (at the time of his signing in November 2012):
"Sindarius Thornwell is an extremely talented guard, and he is a winner. In today's day and age, you have players that are highly ranked across the country that have a sense of entitlement, and he does not. He remains very humble and very loyal to his state. With his choice to play at South Carolina, it shows the kind of love that he, along with the other guys, have for this University. For he and Justin, representing their state was something very important to them. Sindarius has a chance to be a special player in our program. He is another big guard, who can play the point guard position, as well as the two and three. He is the consummate winner; he defends, he rebounds and he is a great decision maker with the basketball."