When Brandon Wallace ran into Silver Bluff basketball coach Samuel Lilly at the beginning of this school year, the senior proclaimed he had seen the world.
For the next four years, though, Wallace will play right around the corner from his house.
Wallace, a 6-foot-8 forward and The Augusta Chronicle 2001 South Carolina Player of the Year, said Monday he has verbally committed to University of South Carolina.
Fresh off a summer of basketball camps and tournaments in Colorado, Indiana, West Virginia and Florida, Wallace - considered by recruiting services as the top senior in the state and one of the nation's top-25 small forwards - ultimately decided to attend aschool that's less than an hour away from his family.
"It's close to home," Wallace said Monday night. "It's a program that's heading in the right direction, and I really liked the players and coaches."
Lilly said the early decision will provide Wallace with few distractions when the Bulldogsstart this season.
"That is good news," Lilly said. "It's good news for him that he won't have to worry about (committing) this year. We'll be looking forward to this year. I told him to just go out and play."
He'll have to do more than play for Silver Bluff, though. Wallace, who averaged 22.3 points, 14.6 rebounds and 6.5 blocks per game last year, will have to lead as well.
With the graduation of Alvin Greenwood and Aaron Parker, Wallace likely will be the only senior to start for the Bulldogs, who were beaten by Allendale-Fairfax in the Class AA state semifinals last season.
"We need his leadership for him not to get frustrated with a young team," Lilly said. "He'll have to be patient with them. He showed that this summer when we went 12-5 in a summer league."
Wallace, who chose the Gamecocks over Maryland and Auburn, committed to South Carolina coach Dave Odum on Monday morning.
"I didn't really feel (the pressure to make the pre-season decision)," said Wallace, who made his decision last week. "It was just something I knew I wanted to do."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.