COLUMBIA — Frank Martin has enjoyed meeting fans, learning about his new home city and working with colleagues like Steve Spurrier, Ray Tanner and Dawn Staley. Now, South Carolina’s new men’s basketball coach is ready to get to work.
“It’s been awesome” since arriving in March from Kansas State, Martin said. “With all that said, this is my favorite time of the year.”
Martin and the Gamecocks open practice on Friday, along with the rest of Division I college basketball. Martin was hired after last season to revive a South Carolina team that fell to last in the Southeastern Conference at 2-14 a year ago.
Almost from the time he touched down in Columbia, Martin’s spoken to civic groups, alumni groups and booster groups. He’s also worked hard on recruiting, filling a roster that lost last year’s leading scorer in Malik Cooke, young forwards Anthony Gill and Damontre Harris to transfer and, at least temporarily, point guard Bruce Ellington to the football team.
For Martin, though, his passion is practice and that can’t arrive fast enough.
“My life becomes what it’s supposed to be, which is basically those players that trust in me and our staff to help them and show them a way to be successful,” he said.
Can South Carolina compete right away in the improving SEC?
Martin’s not ready to say.
“What was that lady who came on TV and made all those predictions? Miss Cleo?” Martin said. “She got paid to make predictions and she got put in jail. I’m not into that prediction stuff.”
FLORIDA: Coach Billy Donovan will have his oldest son on the bench this season – and maybe on the floor the following year.
Donovan’s son, also named Billy, has transferred to Florida from Catholic University. The walk-on junior must sit out this season and will be eligible to compete for the Gators next fall.
Don’t expect the younger Donovan to be like dad, though. Donovan averaged 4.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in two years at Catholic.
He averaged 5.9 points and had 49 assists as a sophomore last season.
The elder Donovan says it’s “going to be great to have Billy here, both for our team and for our family.” The coach adds that he hopes “this will be a great experience for him.”