The success of the banner recruiting class South Carolina coach Dave Odom signed will start becoming determined today.
Odom said Monday he should receive final word today on the admission of highly rated recruit Michael Holmes, who has been attempting to get into school for the second summer session. Holmes, a 6-foot-7 power forward out of Lee Central High School, averaged 23 points, 13.8 rebounds and three blocks per game while leading the Stallions to their second straight Class AA state championship.
"We are in the final throes of the admissions process with Michael," Odom said. "I'm very hopeful we would have some decision by the end of the working day.
"By this time (today), we will know."
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Joining Holmes on the block is 6-8 forward Aaron Ellis, who played at Carolina Forest High School before going to prep school in Maine last year. Like Holmes, Ellis is being held up by the admissions process and should have a final determination today.
Odom, coming off a 14-16 season where the Gamecocks finished last in the SEC, had a ballyhooed recruiting class in place and was counting on several transfers to give USC a new look -- and hopefully a lot more wins -- this season. Former Chester High School star Devan Downey and former Georgia Tech guard Zam Fredrick had to sit out a year after transferring but are ready to go, and recruits Austin Steed, Sam Muldrow and Trevor Deloach are already enrolled.
But some other pieces of the class hit a snag. Columbia native Mike Jones transferred from Syracuse, didn't fulfill his academic requirements and ended up at junior college. Holmes, the highest-rated of the class with a No. 78 national ranking, and Ellis are waiting on the word from the admissions office.
After losing all-SEC first-teamer Tre Kelley, center Brandon Wallace and wingman Bryce Sheldon, the Gamecocks will at least be one of the newest-looking teams in the league this year. Odom also added Navy transfer Branden Conrad to the roster to complement returning starter Dominique Archie and veteran Dwayne Day.
How much help the pair will have will be decided today.
"I feel good about (Holmes) but the process has not been totally completed," Odom said.
Odom was part of an SEC coaches teleconference, discussing the offseason and the expectations for next season. The consensus was Tennessee seems to have the best returning talent and the SEC West was going to be a toss-up.
"I've got a lot of guys who got some great accolades and that's awesome," said Arkansas coach John Pelphrey, one of the SEC's two rookie coaches along with Kentucky's Billy Gillispie.
Pelphrey joined the Razorbacks after the ouster of Stan Heath and brings a familiar face to the court. Pelphrey starred as a Kentucky player in the early 1990s under Rick Pitino and then-Wildcats assistant Billy Donovan, and served under Donovan as an assistant at Marshall and Florida.
"I think John's going to do great," said Donovan. "He's in a great situation."
Donovan, coming off his second straight national title at Florida, discussed his interesting offseason. The Gators won the title in April and lost every starter and their top substitute soon after, leaving them with nine scholarship players for the coming season.
Then Donovan accepted a lucrative deal to coach the Orlando Magic before changing his mind and returning to Gainesville, Fla., the next day.
"In my heart, I know I did what was best for Orlando and best for myself," Donvan said. "I changed my mind. If I could have gotten to that point and known exactly how I was going to feel, maybe it wouldn't have gotten to that point."
Florida's only returning experienced player is guard Walter Hodge, who played several minutes in a rotation last season. After that, the Gators' bench is extremely thin.
"I think this season's a lot different than when we lost Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson and David Lee, just because of the experience," Donovan said. "We had some real significant pieces back but they were in the rotation."
And that loss didn't end up hurting Florida at all.
"The last time we thought he lost a bunch of guys, Walsh and Roberson and Lee, we thought they were going to take a nosedive and they won two straight national championships," pointed out Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings.
Gillispie, trying to deal with the insanity of coaching the NCAA's all-time winningest program, said he's looking forward to catching his breath -- in about 18 months.
"There's just a million things and it's an enormous task to change jobs because there are so many things to do," he said. "There's not any downtime if you don't change jobs. When you do change jobs ... it really takes about a year and a half to get any kind of comfort at all."