March 30, 2015

#STRecruiting: Up and coming Laurens safety Thomas Jones gets USC offer

Thomas Jones (Photo: 247Sports)

Thomas Jones (Photo: 247Sports)

Laurens DB Thomas Jones (6-3 200) is gaining momentum in recruiting circles.  He recently was offered by North Carolina and Saturday he picked up an offer from USC while attending a junior day. He also has offers from Duke, Charlotte and Miami of Ohio and Clemson is showing some interest. He plans to go to Clemson for the spring game April 11th.

Saturday Jones was focused on USC and what the Gamecocks have to offer.

“When I went there I really wasn’t expecting an offer so that’s a blessing,” Jones said.  “I liked everything.  I liked the coaches.  The new defensive coordinator, he looks like he brings a lot of intensity.  He’s a real nice person, a laid back person.  Overall, the whole thing was nice.  I like the set up.  I like Columbia.  I got family close to Columbia, so that’s also a pro.”

Jones spent time with Hoke who will be handling the secondary and got a clear understanding of how he might fit in with the Gamecocks.

“They said I would be a safety,” Jones said.  “They said they like how I fly around and how I’m a ball hawk.  I can play the deep ball real well.”  Jones has four interceptions as a junior.

Jones has also visited Wake Forest and is going to take visits to Georgia Tech, Duke and North Carolina.  His plan right now is to wait until his senior season to make a decision and he hasn’t made up a favorites list just yet, though he feels good about USC coming off the visit.

“With South Carolina being in the state they are probably one of the top choices right now,” Jones said adding that he grew up in a USC family but didn’t lean a particular way in state.

Laurens coach Chris Liner took over the program last season and knew right away he had a special player in Jones.

“He’s kind of a freak of nature, a genetic freak,” Liner said.  “He’s extremely long.  You don’t see a lot of those guys that have that height have that mobility.  He probably could play corner.  He has that kind of speed.”


#STRecruiting: 2G Jamall Gregory set to make decision after USC visit

Jamall Gregory

Jamall Gregory

6-4 Jamall Gregory of Washington, DC made an official visit to USC over the weekend with his mother and he’s now ready to make his college decision.  Gregory said he plans to decide between the Gamecocks and Kansas State between now and Wednesday.  He has not yet visited Kansas State.

Gregory was not prepared to declare a public favorite Sunday after his visit to Columbia but he made it clear he fully enjoyed his time checking out the campus and the program.

“I liked the campus and the facilities,” Gregory said.  “I just liked everything I saw.  And there’s no NBA team there so we’ll have a big fan following when we start doing well.  I hung out with Coach Martin a little bit.  The teammates, they are good guys and seem genuine with what they were saying and they want to win.  I could see myself going in and helping out in the future.”

As for his decision, Gregory said that he would “probably coach Coach Martin and let him know then put it on social media or something.”

Gregory also has offers from DePaul, Canisius, Florida Gulf Coast, Rutgers and Minnesota.  He  averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game this past season for his prep school in Delray Beach, FL.


Final Four bound…USC defeats Florida State 80-74 (AUDIO)

USC coach Dawn Staley carries out the dream of every basketball coach, cutting down the net

USC coach Dawn Staley carries out the dream of every basketball coach, cutting down the net

At the site of the biggest win in the history of USC men’s basketball, the 1971 ACC Tournament championship game at the Greensboro Coliseum, the USC women on Sunday went one step higher, a 80-74 win over Florida State for a berth in the Women’s Final Four next weekend in Tampa.

Staley leaves the court with her prized possession

Staley leaves the court with her prized possession

It’s the first time a USC basketball program has reached the holy ground of the Final Four, and the top seeded Gamecocks had to rally twice in Greensboro to win the regional.  Friday night they fought off North Carolina winning on a shot in the final seconds.  And Sunday the Gamecocks had to battle from behind most of the day until finally grabbing the game by the throat in the final two minutes.

Florida State had a 10 point lead in the first off despite hot shooting by the Gamecocks.  Turnovers and defensive rebounding hurt USC early on but the Gamecocks fought back hitting 11 of their final 12 shots to trail only 41-38 at the half.

The Gamecocks didn’t take their first lead of the game until the 10:08 mark of the second half.  A Tiffany Mitchell layup put them up 55-54.  It remained a one or two point game for the next several minutes until Mitchell single handedly put her mark on the game.

Mitchell dominated down the stretch

Mitchell dominated down the stretch

The All American  fed Aleighsa Welch for a layup that tied the game at 67 with 2:42 to play.  Mitchell then followed with a layup and a deep three and the Gamecocks were up five with 1:20 to play.  She also added two free throws while Asia Dozier went 4-4 from the line in the final 17 seconds to clinch the Gamecocks’ spot in Tampa.

Mitchell finished with a game high 21 points.  The Gamecocks 61% shooting performance help to offset the 16 offensive rebounds they allowed FSU to convert to 14 points.

Mitchell and Alaina Coates made the all tournament team and Coates was voted the Most Outstanding Player of the regional.

The Gamecocks improve to 34-2 and will face the winner of tonight’s Notre Dame-Baylor game in the Final Four next Sunday at either 6:30 PM or 9:00 PM.

Final Stats

AUDIO: USC post game press conference [23:14]

(Dawn Staley, Tiffany Mitchell, Alaina Coates)

AUDIO: Dawn Staley talks with SC media [11:03]

North Carolina sweeps the Carolinas All Star Basketball Classic (AUDIO)

Mack goes up for two of  his game high 27 points (Photo: The Mayor)

Mack goes up for two of his game high 27 points (Photo: The Mayor)

The North Carolina teams proved superior Saturday at Socastee High School winning both ends of the Carolinas All Star Basketball Classic.  The boys won by a 106-93 score and the girls came away with a 66-60 victory.

In the boys game, NC had seven players to score in double figures and hit a dozen three pointers.  NC led by ten at the half but SC chipped away at the lead in the second half and trailed just 70-69 with just over 12 minutes to play.

But SC could never come up with the defensive stop to be able to take the lead.  NC responded with a 10-1 run and eventually built a 16 point lead in the final minutes.

Dreher’s Tevin Mack was the MVP for SC with a game high 27 points on 10-22 shooting.  The VCU signee tied the game record with four three pointers.

Chesnee’s Deion Holmes, the state’s second all time leading scorer who averaged 40 points per game this season, took only eight shots and had 12 points.

Spring Valley’s Malik Dunbar, who won the slam dunk contest Friday night, finished with 18 points and a tean high 10 rebounds.

NC MVP Kentrell Barkley of Durham had 18 points, 5 assists and 3 steals.

The win is the second straight for NC in the series and gives it a 12-6 overall lead in the competition.

AUDIO: SC coach Greg Elliott [2:14]

Box Score

In the girls’ game, NC took a 66-60 win despite shooting 29.6% from the floor.  SC wasn’t much better making just 30.6% of its shots.  NC managed two more three pointers and made six more free throws.  SC committed 26 turnovers which NC turned into 26 points.

NC led by six at halftime and never trailed in the second half leading by as much as 14 points.  SC got as close as four at 59-55 with 4:29 to play but could get no closer as NC hit layups and free throws down the stretch.

Dejoria Howard of Orangeburg-Wilkinson earned MVP honors for SC with 16 points and 4 rebounds.  Grace Hunter of Raleigh was the NC MVP with 14 points and 7 rebounds.

The NC Girls have won three straight in the series and lead it 11-7.

Box Score



#STRecruiting: Long time USC lean DE Javon Kinlaw holds off on commitment

Javon Kinlaw

Javon Kinlaw

Goose Creek DE Javon Kinlaw (6-7 265) has had USC at the top of his list since the Gamecocks were the first to offer him in August 2014.  And he went to the  Gamecocks’ junior day Saturday thinking he might be ready to commit.  But that didn’t happen Saturday and Kinlaw say no commitment is coming from him anytime soon.

“I’m putting things on hold for awhile,” said Kinlaw who added that he didn’t get the feeling from the Gamecocks they were ready to accept a commitment from him.

“Everything was nice talking about the brand new facilities and stuff like that.  I just love it up there.  It’s great.  I just feel like I’m not ready yet.  I’m gong to weigh all my options.”

Kinlaw met with his recruiter Steve Spurrier Jr. and defensive line coach Deke Adams but did not talk with Steve Spurrier, Jon Hoke or Lorenzo Ward.

Despite not making a pledge Saturday, Kinlaw said he’s still favoring the Gamecocks strongly over the rest of the field.  He also has offers from Clemson, Alabama, Florida, Louisville, East Carolina, Florida State and Auburn. Clemson, Florida and Florida State are three others that have stood out to Kinlaw.