Sindarius Thornwell

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drives to the basket defended by Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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South Carolina’s Thornwell to return from suspension Wednesday

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Sindarius Thornwell will return from a suspension that has kept him out of the South Carolina lineup for the last six games when the Gamecocks visit Georgia on Wednesday.

“Sindarius has taken full responsibility for his mistake that led to his suspension,” head coach Frank Martin said. “He has worked hard over the course of the last few weeks and has done everything we’ve asked of him to make his way back to the court.”

Thornwell is averaging 18.7 points, 6.7 boards and 4.1 assists on the season. The Gamecocks have gone just 3-3 in his absence, with one of those wins coming against something called Lander. Those losses are going to hurt, but in the long run the South Carolina team may be better off; in Thornwell’s absence, P.J. Dozier has played like an all-american. The duo of Dozier and Thornwell look like they may be the best pair of guards in the SEC not named Monk and Fox.

Suspended South Carolina star arrested in May for possession

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drives to the basket defended by Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Suspended South Carolina guard Sindarius Thornwell was arrested for possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license in May.

Thornwell was booked into the Lexington County Detention Center, according to an incident report from the Cayce Department of Public Safety. He paid a fine.

Thornwell, the No. 16 Gamecocks’ leading scorer and rebounder for their first six games, was suspended indefinitely by coach Frank Martin on Dec. 4 for violating athletic department policy. Martin has said he will not detail Thornwell’s transgression, calling it a “mental mistake.”

The Post and Courier of Charleston first reported Thornwell’s arrest.

A team spokeswoman said Tuesday nothing had changed with Thornwell’s suspension and would not say if the arrest figured into the discipline.

Frank Martin comments on Sindarius Thornwell suspension

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drives to the basket defended by Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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South Carolina head coach Frank Martin commented on Sindarius Thornwell’s suspension during his call-in show on Thursday.

Thornwell, who was the leading scorer for the 8-0 No. 19 Gamecocks, was suspended indefinitely last Sunday. Martin has yet to provide a reason for the suspension.

“He’s been with us at practice, he’ll travel with us, he’s excited about our team, his role on the team,” he said, according to South Carolina’s 247 site. “Sindarius is one of my favorite guys I’ve ever come across. He messed up and it is what it is. He’s like a son to me. He messed up and he’s owned up to his mess up.”

“Outside of that, I’m not going to get into anything else. He has my full support. Our job is to prepare our team to play, we don’t prepare individual players to play. It’s no different to someone rolling an ankle. We’re down because of a bad decision. We’ll be fine.”

Thornwell is averaging 18.7 points, 6.0 boards and 4.1 assists. The Gamecocks play Seton Hall in New York City on Monday night.

VIDEO: South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell crushes Clemson defender on dunk

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South Carolina moved to 10-0 on the season on Friday night as they were able to outlast in-state rival Clemson. Junior wing Sindarius Thornwell put down one of the better poster dunks of the early season by throwing it down on Clemson’s Landry Nnoko.

The former four-star recruit has been an important player for the Gamecocks the last three seasons as he’s averaging 11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4 assists per game on the season.

 

Coach: South Carolina finally has depth to make NCAA run

Frank Martin
Associated Press
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Fourth-year basketball coach Frank Martin believes he has finally reached a key milestone at South Carolina.

“I don’t have to play the guys I get mad at anymore,” he said. “We’ve got enough people.”

Martin said he has depth and a group of upperclassmen, including guards Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice and forwards Laimonas Chatkevicius and Michael Carrera, who can take ownership of the program and mentor young players like McDonald’s All-American P.J. Dozier.

Martin and the Gamecocks are looking to build off last year’s 17-16 mark, South Carolina’s first winning record since the 2008-09 team went 21-10.

“They’re out there teaching the freshmen. They’re out there talking. They’re out there helping the next guy,” Martin said. “They understand what they’re doing which then allows me to be more creative”

The Gamecocks could surely use some creativity. The team won just 14 games in each of Martin’s first two years, the first two seasons of his career he finished with losing records. South Carolina looked ready to make a splash last season when it entered Southeastern Conference play at 10-3 and fresh off a victory over then-No. 9 Iowa State.

But the Gamecocks lost 11 of their next 14 games and were filled with problems. Thornwell, an SEC all-freshman a year earlier, played on two bad knees and Martin suspended forwards Demetrius Henry and Shamiek Sheppard were suspended for the rest of the season for violating team rules.

The two later transferred.

Still, South Carolina rebounded to win four of its last six games (including two in the SEC tournament) to ensure a winning mark.

Martin said his newcomers, which include 6-foot-9 forwards Eric Cobb and Chris Silva, are the kind who can compete in the rugged SEC.

Thornwell had injections during the offseason to fight off tendinitis in his knees, which he played with all last year. His numbers showed that. A season after averaging 15.6 points and 4.9 rebounds against SEC opponents, Thornwell had just 10.6 points and 4.2 rebounds this past year. Even worse for the Gamecocks, Thornwell has little of the high-flying spring he showed as a freshman.

The other day, though, Thornwell dunked to the delight of himself, his teammates and coaches.

“I told him, `I hadn’t seen that since the third grade,”‘ Martin joked.

Thornwell, the 6-5 junior, hopes to show more of that this year.

“Physically, I feel good,” he said. “I can walk better, run better, cut better, move better. That was first time dunking since freshman year. It felt going being able to touch the rim again.”

Guard Duane Notice, the team’s leading scorer last year at 11.7 points a game, went through a midseason drought last year and coincided with South Carolina’s SEC struggles. Martin said Notice has worked to make sure he’s prepared for a full season.

It helps to have Dozier, the 6-5 son of former South Carolina player Perry Dozier and sister of Asia Dozier, a starter on the Gamecocks’ Final Four women’s basketball team. The newest Dozier turned down Louisville, Michigan and North Carolina to stay near home in Columbia.

Martin said Dozier has worked at the point guard spot because he thinks and plays that way.

The biggest impact for South Carolina could be along the front line.

Chatkevicius, Carrera and Mindaugas Kacinas have handled much of the work underneath the past three seasons. Martin believes Cobb and Silva will do their share, despite their youth.

“I think we have too many guys now,” Chatkevicius said. “I’m not used to that. Glad to see so many faces here.”

The depth gives Martin hope these Gamecocks can get back to the NCAA Tournament, someplace they have not been since 2004.

South Carolina guards working back from surgery

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South Carolina has the pieces on their roster to be a team that makes some noise in the SEC this season, but that is dependent on some of their most important players getting healthy.

Namely, junior Sindarius Thornwell and redshirt freshman TeMarcus Blanton, both of whom underwent surgery over the summer. Thornwell had a procedure done on his knees while Blanton underwent surgery on a dislocated hip, an injury that was similar to what Bo Jackson did that ended his career.

Blanton is ahead of schedule on his recovery, but both he and Thornwell are being held out of competition for now.

“[Blanton] was supposed to be doing the stuff he’s doing now in August, so he’s about two months ahead of schedule,” head coach Frank Martin told the Charleston Post and Courier. “As far as sprinting, running, cutting, jumping — he does everything in the weight room and conditioning and agilities when we’re on the court with the exception of competing. We’re not allowing him to get in live competition yet, neither him nor Sindarius. But they do everything else. We don’t need to overload them, either one. We don’t have a game next week.”

That same story also said that incoming freshman P.J. Dozier, a McDonald’s All-American, is working his way into shape. Keyword: working.

“He and the garbage can became best friends that first week [of practice],” Martin said. “Every time I turned around, his head was inside of it.”