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University of South Carolina men’s basketball associate head coach Matt Figger said he’s excited about the upcoming Gamecocks’ basketball season and one reason is former Lancaster Bruins’ star Sindarius Thornwell.
Figger made his remarks while speaking at the Lancaster County Gamecock Club’s Gathering of the Gamecocks of some 88 fans at the Lancaster Moose Lodge on Monday, Oct. 7.
“We’re starting our second year, but it’s sorta like our first year because we have eight new faces, seven freshman,” Figger said.
“One thing that gets me excited is Sindarius Thornwell,” Figger said.
“He’s a very talented player. He’s the one guy we had to have because he was the foundation of bringing other players into our program. On my first day on the job, I was in Lancaster to see Sindarius. He was that important to us.”
Thornwell played three seasons at Lancaster High School where he was an all-region player and the Class AAAA Player of the Year in his junior season. He played his senior campaign at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., where he led Oak Hill to a 33-5 mark and was regarded as a four-star recruit before signing with USC last fall.
“Sindarius is a kid you can be proud of because he’s proud of his community,” Figger said. “He has a strong desire to do well and be successful.”
Figger said the Gamecocks are shooting to better the 14-18 finish of last season.
“We didn’t come here to be a doormat,” he said. “What we want to do is win the SEC championship. We don’t want basketball to be a stop gap between the football and baseball seasons at South Carolina.
“Those team’s are terrific and there’s no reason we can’t be terrific,” Figger said. “We’re going to play hard. We’re going to compete and give you a product you can be proud of.
“We want to be aggressive and we want to run and attack,” he said.
“We’re going to have players who are passionate about wearing the garnet and black.
Figger noted the Gamecocks are in their second week of practice, and making strides.
“Our guys are young, but they’re learning quick,” he said.
The Gamecocks face USC Aiken in an exhibition on Nov. 3 and open their regular season against Big South member Longwood University in Columbia on Nov. 9.
Ryan Brewer, the 2001 Outback Bowl MVP, also spoke during the meeting.
Brewer, known for his monster game in the Gamecocks’ 24-7 win over Ohio State with 214 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including 119 rushing yards, said the success of the USC program began in his freshman season.
“We went 0-11 my freshman year and had 13 freshmen starting,” he said.
“We had to strive to be great. We had some great players coming in with some great players who remained.”
Brewer, a Troy, Ohio native, was thrilled to face Ohio State since as a Mr. Football in Ohio was snubbed as a potential Buckeyes’ recruit.
“I was ready to be a Gamecock,” he said. “I was excited to play against Ohio State and to have the opportunity to tote the rock.
“That was the best game of my career,” Brewer said.
Jay Brown, Gamecock Club assistant director, said the club is bidding to reach 17,000 members after topping a record 16,000 earlier this year.
“That’s extremely exciting,” said Brown, a 2010 Gamecocks baseball captain on the USC national championship team.
Brown noted the club is open to facility tours of new and upgraded USC athletic facilities.
Brown noted the Gamecocks will host the Tip-Off Tailgate Party With Gamecock Basketball on Oct. 26 at Colonial Life Arena.
The free event, open to the public, will begin one hour prior to kickoff of the South Carolina at Missouri football contest.
The event, which will feature the Carolina men’s and women’s basketball teams, also includes the opportunity to watch the Missouri football contest on the video board at the CLA.