Who would have thought South Carolina's two flagship universities would boast NBA talent?
As the NBA season began last week, three former South Carolina players and one from Clemson were on pro rosters. Former Gamecocks Tarence Kinsey (Memphis), Renaldo Balkman (N.Y. Knicks) and Brandon Wallace (Boston) were around for Opening Day as well as former Tigers star Greg Buckner (Minnesota).
Wallace surprised many by signing a free-agent deal with the Celtics, joining South Carolina natives Kevin Garnett (Mauldin) and Ray Allen (Dalzell) on the roster. Wallace, a rangy center/forward who left USC with the school's all-time blocked shots record, did well enough in the summer leagues to earn a shot.
Buckner, entering his ninth season in the NBA, is with his fourth team. He was traded from Dallas last year after averaging 4.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 76 games.
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Another former Gamecock may be on the way to the NBA. Carlos Powell was picked second in the NBA Developmental League draft last week and will play for the Dakota Wizards this season. The Wizards are affiliated with Memphis and Washington and won the NBDL title last year.
Powell has played in Europe but didn't want to go back this season, so he worked out in Columbia, where first cousin Sam Muldrow is a freshman for the Gamecocks. Powell ended his career in 2005 with the NIT MVP award and a spot (seventh) in USC's career scoring list.
• HANGING IT UP: Clemson men's tennis coach Chuck Kriese has announced he will retire after this season, completing a 33-year career.
Kriese was hired in 1975 and led the Tigers to 670 wins, making him one of the top 10 winningest active coaches in NCAA Division I. He also leads the ACC history books in conference wins (165).
The Tigers have made 24 NCAA tournaments under Kriese, including seven trips to the Elite Eight. They have finished in the Top 25 16 times since 1979.
• EARLY WATCH: USC juniors Justin Smoak and James Darnell are two of the top 25 Major League Baseball prospects in the country, according to Baseball America.
Smoak, returning for his third year at first base, is the No. 3 prospect and Darnell, an infielder, is No. 25. Known as "The Blond Bombers," either Smoak or Darnell led the Gamecocks in almost every hitting category last year.
Smoak was selected to the USA Baseball national team this past summer while Darnell earned All-Star accolades in the Cape Cod League. The two are expected to anchor the offense for this year's Gamecocks, who are seeking to extend their run of Super Regional appearances to eight of the past nine years.
• RECOGNIZED: Former USC star Brad Guzan was named Major League Soccer Goalkeeper of the Year last week after he led Chivas to a Western Conference-best 15-7-8 record.
Guzan, a No. 2 draft pick and the highest goalie ever drafted by MLS, led the league in shutouts (13) and allowed just 28 goals all year.
• RECOGNIZED II: Rock Hill native Sarah Cline tied a USC volleyball record over the weekend, recording 36 digs in a 3-2 win over Arkansas. A former Northwestern High School standout, Cline was one of several strong performers for the Gamecocks.
Belita Salters had a career-best 20 kills and a season-high 10 blocks for USC while Petra Lorenzi and Hannah Lawing each had a double-double.
• THE RIVALRY: The USC-Clemson all-sports season rivalry remained tied after the men's and women's swimming and diving teams split over the weekend. The Clemson men dominated their meet 206-97 but the Lady Gamecocks won their meet, 157-143.
The next match is Nov. 24 in football.