A decision on the coaching future of Frank Martin with the USC men’s basketball program will be rendered early next week sources told SportsTalkSC.com on Saturday. Martin will meet with Gamecock athletics director Ray Tanner perhaps as early as Monday. According to sources, Martin will be presented with multiple options from the University, none of which includes remaining as the head coach.
Martin has two years remaining on his contract and his buyout would cost USC over six million dollars unless it is negotiated down.
Martin just completed his ninth season as head coach of the Gamecocks, and it was the poorest of his time in Columbia. The Gamecocks were defeated in the SEC Tournament Thursday night to end their season with a 6-15 mark, 4-13 in SEC competition. That’s the lowest overall win total since the 1998-99 team went 8-21.
Martin is 153-134 overall at USC (53%) and 74-91 (45%) in conference games. He led the Gamecocks to a school record 26 wins and to the Final Four in 2016-17 in his one NCAA Tournament appearance with the program. The Gamecocks made the NIT the previous season. The Gamecocks had a streak of six consecutive non-losing seasons end this year, one of the most successful runs in the program’s history.
The Gamecock season was fraught with Covid related issues, injuries and underachieving performances. Three times there were interruptions due to Covid cases and/or contact tracing. Martin himself suffered thru Covid twice. Only two players, AJ Lawson and Wildens Leveque, were able to play in all 21 games. Starting center Alonzo Frink played in just 3 games.
Performance-wise, Keyshawn Bryant was the only regular to significantly increase his scoring average over his career average. Bryant averaged 14.4 points per game this season, 4 points more than his career number. Lawson averaged a career high 16.6 points per game, but shot a career low 39%.
Shooting was a big problem all season for the Gamecocks. Among SEC teams, they were 12th in field goal percentage, 12th in 3-point field goal percentage and 13th in free throw percentage.
Most disappointing for Martin, however, was the defensive performance of his team. Martin has built his reputation on unrelenting, physical defense, but this year’s team had little of that. They were last in the SEC in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense and 3-point field goal defense.
The search for a new coach will commence immediately, and sources say one prominent name early on will be former Gamecock guard Mike Boynton, who is the head coach at 12th ranked Oklahoma State.