By Leeroy Francis Jr. |
The Augusta University men’s basketball team looks to start off its season with a high-profile exhibition game against the University of South Carolina at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C., at 6 p.m. today (Oct. 26).
The Jags, who went 16-13 in 2017-18, are in a new season, transitioning away from all-region forward Tamrik Fields, Kyle Doyle, Vlad Cobzaru and Andrew Parker. The new leaders of the team, seniors Aaron Byrd, Deane Williams and Captain Tyvez Williams, will lead the retooled Jaguars, who added signees Darren Lucas-White, Robert Barlund, Alex Johnson and Tyree Myers Rafael Monteiro, a transfer from Utah State.
The Jaguars look to prepare for the season facing off against a Division-I opponent for the third straight season. The Jags will have to pace themselves on offense, limit turnovers and match the Gamecocks physicality throughout the game. The Jaguars need to use their speed to make plays down low, driving to the basket or passing to the front court of Williams and company.
The Jaguars will go up against a Gamecock team that finished 17-16 last season and barely missing out on the 32-team NIT Tournament. In the SEC last season, the Gamecocks had seven wins, including one over SEC regular-season champion Auburn, SEC tournament champion Kentucky and SEC tournament No. 3 seed Florida. Two seasons ago, Coach Frank Martin’s Gamecocks made it to the Final Four.
The Gamecocks have four returning starters coming back this season, led by the powerful 6-foot-9 forward Chris Silva. The reigning SEC defensive player of the year and All-SEC first-teamer chose to come back for his senior season after testing the NBA pre-draft process. Silva is considered as an SEC player of the year candidate and will present matchup problems for the Jags.
Silva averaged a team-high 14.3 points, 8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for USC last season. He finished second nationally in fouls drawn per 40 minutes and shot 283 free throws, making 213. The other returning starters include Hassani Gravett, Maik Kotsar, Justin Minaya and Evan Hinson.
“It’s a great opportunity, and the most important thing is to come out of this is knowing your weaknesses and coach (Frank) Martin is very gracious for playing us,” AU Coach Dip Metress said.
Admission tonight is free.