COLUMBIA -- Academics will not be the only impediment to Sam Muldrow taking the court for South Carolina this season.
The sophomore center sprained an elbow in Tuesday's practice and will be out indefinitely, according to coach Darrin Horn. Muldrow has missed the first seven games with an unspecified academic issue, and that has yet to be cleared up.
But Horn said having Muldrow take a redshirt season is not being considered.
"Not at this point," Horn said. "It's a sprain situation, where the timetable, there isn't one. So we're going to have to see how it goes."
The 6-foot-9 Muldrow was not expected to be a starter this season, but he could be the team's best pure low-post player. A native of Florence, he started 10 games last year and averaged 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds. He also blocked 42 shots, and teammate Dominique Archie predicted last season that Muldrow could eventually break the school record for blocks.
Muldrow's academic status is still an issue, according to Horn, who has never said what exactly has kept the player out. Muldrow had perfect attendance at Wilson High and was on the honor roll, according to the Gamecocks' media guide.
If Muldrow had been academically ineligible for the fall semester, he could return for Tuesday's game against North Carolina Central, but Horn indicated there were other issues.
"Eventually we'll get to a point where -- there's not a conspiracy theory, you guys will understand that," Horn said. "When we know, we'll let you know. That had not changed, that's why we didn't comment on it. The injury happened (Tuesday), that's why we're commenting on it."
The prognosis is better for Brandis Raley-Ross, who has been out since he sprained his knee in the season opener. The junior guard has been practicing, and Horn said there was an "opportunity" for him to play against N.C. Central.
"It's far from looking good, but at least (Raley-Ross) withstood the rigors of a practice," Horn said.
The Gamecocks can probably survive their next three games without either player. N.C. Central, The Citadel and Presbyterian are a combined 7-17, and all three games are at home.
But it would be useful to get the players back into the rotation, especially with games against Clemson (Dec. 30) and Baylor (Jan. 2), followed shortly by the start of the SEC season.
Until Muldrow or Raley-Ross return, the Gamecocks have nine available players.
"We're trying right now just to get better, every single day, as boring as that sounds, and play the way we need to play to improve and give ourselves a chance to win in the games that we have," Horn said. "Hopefully the bench will lengthen just because we're going to get a couple guys back at some point."