On the day that South Carolina announced the addition of seven newcomers (including midyear transfer Tyrone Johnson) the school also announced that four players had their requests to be released from their scholarships granted.
Guards Damien Leonard, Brian Richardson and Eric Smith, and forward RJ Slawson all asked for their releases and received them according to head coach Frank Martin.
“After our team’s end of the season meetings, Damien Leonard, Eric Smith, RJ Slawson and Brian Richardson have decided to ask for their release and will not be with the team moving forward,” Martin said in a statement released by the school.
“We want to thank them for being tremendous representatives for the University, the Athletics Department and the men’s basketball team. We fully support them and wish them the best moving forward.”
Of the four players Smith saw the most playing time in Martin’s first season at South Carolina, starting 27 of the Gamecocks’ 32 games and averaging nearly 28 minutes per contest. The 5-10 point guard averaged 5.7 points and 3.1 assists per game for South Carolina, which finished with a 14-18 overall record (4-14 SEC).
Offensively Richardson, a 6-4 guard from Wilson, N.C., was the most productive with an average of 7.5 points per game. Removing Smith, the other three transfers averaged between 14.8 (Leonard) and 18.2 (Richardson) minutes per game.
With the seven newcomers the allocation of minutes stood to be far different next season, with the Gamecocks adding talented players such as Johnson and freshmen Sindarius Thornwell and Demetrius Henry.