It's been a couple of years since South Carolina basketball had a star—someone the fans could rally behind and believe in.
Thaddeus Hall, Frank Martin's first USC recruit, could be just that.
Hall, a 6'5" wing from Thomas Jefferson High (Brooklyn, N.Y.) is just what the Gamecocks need to revive a recently stagnant basketball program. Hall has the star power to inspire Gamecock Nation if his ability to score at will isn't enough.
And that's what fans need in Columbia—not only a great player but an actual star whose presence can infect the entire campus.
The Gamecocks have sorely missed Devan Downey since the fan favorite graduated two years ago. Downey's exciting play and powerful charisma lit up the Colonial Life Arena. Fans would pile in to cheer on Downey's 30-point games and slap hands with the leader who would involve the crowd after every great play.
Fans wanted to believe Downey's heir was guard Bruce Ellington, who scored almost 13 points per game his freshman season. But Ellington didn't improve the team and fans became less interested. Two years after his arrival, fans are more excited to see Ellington on the football field than the hardwood, and the basketball team has hit new lows in both wins and attendance.
Hall is the kind of star that can fix all that.
Coming into the business-driven world of college athletics, Hall has the marketability to promote and sell, and he knows it.
Hall told his Facebook friends, "UNDER ARMOUR BETTER CUT THE CHECK IF I GO TO THE NBA CAUSE I BEEN LOOKING GOOD / KILLING IN THEY GEAR SINCE 10TH GRADE!"
Under Armour just so happens to sponsor the Gamecocks as well as Thomas Jefferson High basketball.
And, boy, did Hall kill on the offensive end as a high schooler.
The southpaw led his team to the Public Schools Athletic League championship averaging 27 points, nine rebounds and almost four assists per game throughout the playoffs, including a 34-point first-half shooting barrage in the second round.
He has the height and length to rise over guards and drain threes, and the quickness to blow past forwards and explode to the rim—never forgetting to let his competition know about it on the way back down the court.
Skip Bayless would love his clutch gene. Hall is the type of player to call for the ball when the game is on the line and celebrate with the crowd in the stands after hitting the shot. In the PSAL playoff semifinal game, Hall scored five points in the final seven seconds to give his Orange Wave team a five-point victory and a ticket to the finals in Madison Square Garden.
Hall passed up offers from the likes of Virgina Tech, West Virginia and St. John's to join Martin in ushering in the new era of basketball at USC.
When Martin stood at the lectern addressing the USC fans and media at his introductory press conference he confidently stated, "We will put 18,000 fans in this arena."
"We're getting ready to go on a ride here," Martin said. "And it's going be fun ride."
His soon-to-be star is the key to begin making good on that promise.
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