College Sports

A recruit visiting Gamecocks basketball during hurricane? Setting the record straight

Who are the newest Gamecock players? Frank Martin tells you

South Carolina coach Frank Martin talks about some of the newest players on the Gamecock basketball team.
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South Carolina coach Frank Martin talks about some of the newest players on the Gamecock basketball team.

Earlier this week, before South Carolina’s football game was canceled, the South Carolina men’s basketball program had to make its own adjustment because of Hurricane Florence.

Wildens Leveque, a three-star prospect from Massachusetts, was all set for a USC visit – “ticketed and ready to go down there with his family,” said Gould Academy coach Cory McClure.

That was before his camp was contacted by a Gamecocks assistant coach.

“We talked with Coach Chuck Martin two nights ago,” McClure told The State on Thursday. “They made the decision that they’re going to look to reschedule. We’re still working out the dates right now, but they’re anxious to get him on campus as soon as possible.”

There were even reports online the visit was still on as late as Thursday.

Florence, a storm that’s projected to severely impact Columbia, has caused a variety of schedule changes in Carolina athletics, the football game with Marshall chief among them. McClure said Leveque was “disappointed” in not making it this weekend, but “he understands.”

And he’d still like to get here.

Leveque is a 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward in the 2019 class who plays for McClure in Bethel, Maine. Leveque averaged 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks per game for Gould last season.

Scholarship offers for Leveque, according to 247Sports, include USC, Penn State, Providence, VCU, Rutgers and Virginia Tech. The Gamecock connection came over the summer when the USC staff was scouting the Adidas Gauntlet AAU event in Los Angeles.

“There were watching another kid – I forget who exactly – but they were watching another kid out in LA during the Adidas Gauntlet,” McClure said. “I think it was the second July period. As it has been told to me by not just the South Carolina staff – but others – he outplayed the other kid.

“I think going into last year he was somewhat of an unknown, more circumstance than anything, because he had a broken wrist last summer. It had been building to this all year with me here at Gould and going into the spring.

“Like any staff does, you’re out there evaluating x-number of kids, and you find another kid. That’s my recollection about how this whole thing came together. I think both Chuck and Frank were probably together at the time.”

McClure was an assistant at the University of New Hampshire while Frank Martin had at the same title at Northeastern University. At the time, both programs were in the American East Conference.

“I’m familiar with him personally and professionally,” McClure said of Martin. “And, certainly like anybody, I’ve watched his ascension as a coach and am well-aware of his style.”

It’s one that fits Leveque.

“He may or may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but this kid can play for a Frank Martin,” McClure continued. “Maybe at the end of the day, it’s not Frank Martin. But if it is, there’s no reservations with me that he doesn’t have the mental or emotional makeup to be successful for Coach.

“But he’ll make that determination when he’s done there and sees the operation in person.”

Plans for the rescheduled visit are still in the works. Leveque, according to McClure, plans to appear this fall on the campuses of Penn State, VCU and South Carolina. (He took an unofficial to UMass in the spring.)

“The intent for this kid is to make a decision in the fall,” McClure said. “So we have a sense of urgency and, as long as South Carolina wants to, we’re going to get him back down there shortly.”

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What does South Carolina like about Leveque’s game?

“That he’s a big man that wants to be a big man and is willing to surrender and be coached,” McClure said. “The beauty of him is he has no delusions of being anything other than a big man. Really refreshing from that perspective.

“With us and with his (AAU) group, he’s developed a shot-blocking, rim-protecting presence. Has really good timing there. His defensive instincts have improved tremendously in the last 18 months.”

South Carolina, with Hartsville’s Trae Hannibal, has one commitment in its ‘19 class.