The South Carolina men’s basketball team will hold their Senior Day recognition Tuesday night at Colonial Life Arena, as the Gamecocks play their final home game of the season against Missouri at 7 p.m.
Graduate students James Reese and AJ Wilson will play their final game at Colonial Life Arena after being traded to the Gamecocks this offseason. Due to COVID-19 adjustments, other seniors on USC’s roster have an additional year of eligibility – if they choose to use it.
Head coach Frank Martin said Monday the Gamecocks (17-11, 8-8 SEC) plan to honor all of their veterans, including redshirt junior Jermaine Couisnard and seniors Keyshawn Bryant, Erik Stevenson and son of Martin, Brandon Martin. The coach said he had not discussed plans for next season with any of these players and had not ruled out the possibility that they could return, but he said he thought acknowledging them all was “the right thing to do”.
A local product who played at AC Flora High School, Reese transferred to the Gamecocks after stints in North Texas and Buffalo and immediately established himself as a team leader. Starting the year as the team’s shooting guard, Reese is averaging 10.4 points per game and has delivered in moments – none bigger than his own. half court buzzer beater in overtime at Ole Miss.
“James has been rock solid for us,” Martin said. “He was an incredible leader. Courage, great spirit, day in and day out, and I’m really proud of him.
Wilson transferred to the Gamecocks after establishing himself as a defensive force in George Mason. Struggling with injuries early in the year, Wilson was slow to find his groove but was a valuable presence up front, making his impact by blocking shots and rebounding. Martin said he intended to start Wilson at center on Tuesday in place of junior Wildens Leveque, to honor him in his final home game.
“AJ, I have mixed emotions, because he’s a really good guy,” Martin said. “And I wish this year had gone better for him in terms of how it went from the start to where we are now. But we still have a few more games to play and hopefully – the, others after that, and we need him to help us.
Both Bryant and Couisnard tested the waters of the NBA draft a year ago and look likely to do so again, if not declare for the draft. Both players have been key starters throughout their Gamecocks careers and played crucial roles in leading USC to a four-game winning streak in February.
Stevenson, a transfer from Washington, has become one of the team’s top leaders alongside Reese and is tied with Couisnard as the team’s leading scorer with 11.5 points per game.
“We haven’t talked about next year,” Martin said. “Right now we’re worried about beating Missouri and finding a way to end this year the right way. But it’s the right thing to do. I’ve always thought guys who were in college for four years they have been in line for degrees and you have to honor them, you have to celebrate them.
Next USC men’s basketball game
WHO: South Carolina vs. Missouri
When: 7:00 p.m. Tuesday
Or: Colonial Life Arena in Colombia
Look: SEC Network
This story was originally published February 28, 2022 10:44 a.m.