South Carolina head coach Frank Martin welcomes seven freshmen to the program this season as he looks to turn the Gamecocks into a formidable program in the SEC. One of the most important steps in making that happen is to not only bring in players, but to bring in players capable of making an impact upon their arrival.
On Sunday the head coach received a verbal commitment from 2014 wing TeMarcus Blanton, who made his decision after officially visiting the school this weekend. Blanton, who joins point guard Marcus Stroman as 2014 verbal commitments for the South Carolina program, was expected to visit George Mason and Auburn this fall according to Will Gunter of 247Sports.com. With his decision to verbally commit to South Carolina, it doesn’t look as if Blanton will be making those trips.
According to Blanton, he informed the head coach of his decision while they were out at dinner during his official visit.
“We were at dinner and once I told them, their faces just brightened up,” Blanton told TheBigSpur.com on Sunday night. “It was kind of wild, they were real happy. Coach Martin’s wife was there and that was the first time she saw a player commit to her husband and she was really excited.”
Blanton, who hails from Locust Grove, Ga. and attends Luella High School, averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game last season, helping to lead his team to its first-ever state tournament appearance. He’ll join a full rotation of wings at South Carolina, with the Gamecocks adding three freshmen in Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice and Justin McKie. But if any program that’s struggled is to make a move back towards respectability, there’s a need for competition amongst the players in the program.
South Carolina didn’t have that kind of depth last season and it was evident, as they finished the season 4-14 in SEC play (14-18 overall). With their many newcomers joining returnees such as forward Michael Carrera and guard Brenton Williams (Bruce Ellington will be a factor as well), there’s a good chance that Blanton will be joining an improved program in 2014.