There are a lot of new faces on the South Carolina State men’s basketball team this season, and with good reason.
The Bulldogs set a pair of what sixth-year coach Tim Carter calls forgettable school records, losing 16 straight games and finishing the season with the most losses ever with a 5-25 overall record. South Carolina State lost 23 of its last 24 games.
“Our goal is to get back where we were three years ago when we were contending for the chance to go to the NCAA tournament,” Carter said. “We thought we had the program heading in the right direction, but in the last few years we took a detour.”
South Carolina State finished second in the MEAC in both Carter’s second and third seasons at the school, were eighth in 2010-11 and dead last a year ago with an 0-17 MEAC record.
To get things going again, Carter has spent a lot of time on the recruiting trail. S.C. State has nine new faces on its roster, five of them coming from the junior college level.
“When you’re coaching and have that kind of year, you realize you made some mistakes in your recruiting and you have to correct those mistakes. That’s what we tried to do,” Carter said.
South Carolina State has three returnees with experience — senior point guard Khalif Toombs, sophomore wing Devin Joint and sophomore forward Luka Radovic.
Carter said that trio has been solid in preseason workouts. He said he hoped to have help for Toombs at the point. The senior averaged almost 35 minutes per game last year while averaging almost 11 points per game. That is expected to come from junior Louie Adams, a native of Senegal who played at Brevard Community College.
Other newcomers expected to contribute early include 6-7 freshman forward Darryl Palmer out of Timberland and 6-11 junior Matthew Hezekiah out of Jacksonville (Fla.) Community College. Also on the Bulldogs’ roster is 6-4 freshman guard Shaquille Mitchell from Baptist Hill.