2012 forward Michael Carrera officially headed to South Carolina

1 Comment

Just over a month after committing to South Carolina, 6-6 forward Michael Carrera is officially headed to the SEC school after being admitted into the 2012 class according to

A native of Venezuela who played for Stu Vetter at Montrose Christian in Maryland, Carrera boosts Frank Martin’s signee total for his first season in Columbia to six.

Carrera averaged 13.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game last season, and skill-wise he’s a player who brings a great deal of effort to the table and can play either the three or the four.

“I like everything. There’s great people there. I like Coach Frank (Martin) and Coach (Matt) Figger. The first time that I went there I felt like that was the state I wanted to be in. I like the campus and my teammates. It’s where i want to be and it’s what I was looking for.”

Carrera’s decision to attend South Carolina was delayed a bit by the need to finish up some coursework, and once that was taken care of South Carolina was able to decide on his admission.

With that hurdle now cleared Carrera is officially a Gamecock, and they can definitely use him in a front court that saw both Anthony Gill and Damontre Harris leave the program at the end of the 2011-12 campaign.

But even with those two on the floor the Gamecocks struggled on the boards, as opponents were able to rebound just over 37% of their missed shots (330th nationally) per

Sophomore RJ Slawson is their most experienced returnee in the front court, having averaged 17.8 minutes and 4.5 points per game last season.

Outside of Slawson however, there isn’t much for the Gamecocks to rely on when it comes to experience in the paint with redshirt sophomore Carlton Geathers out for up to six months with a knee injury.

Carrera, Laimonas Chatkevicius, Thaddeus Hall and Mindaugas Kacinas will be needed to contribute as freshmen in a league that’s gotten tougher with the arrival of Missouri and Texas A&M in addition to a few of the holdovers improving.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
Leave a comment

Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Leave a comment

Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.