COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina used to be a football school. Now, with the men’s basketball team playing in the Final Four, the perception is changing.
The first piece of evidence: Jake Bentley showed up to Williams-Brice Stadium for interviews on Monday morning. Only three reporters were waiting for him.
Bentley, who played some hoops growing up, is among the fans of Frank Martin, Sindarius Thornwell and the rest of the South Carolina men’s basketball team.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Bentley said. “We watch every game. There’s a group of guys that we are just in the dorm watching the game. It’s awesome, just to see how hard they play.
“All the support that’s been rallied around them, from the school, around campus, it’s awesome. You can just see how much excitement they’re bringing to the whole city here. It’s great to see.”
The sophomore quarterback enjoyed the celebration on Sunday, after South Carolina downed Florida in the Elite 8 at Madison Square Garden.
“It was crazy. During the day, when they won, everyone went to the fountain on campus. At Five Points, everyone was just all together as one big group. … Just all together cheering for them,” Bentley said.
Once the dust settles in April and the school’s attention shifts from round-ball to pigskin, Bentley and the South Carolina football team will try to draw some motivation from the success of men’s basketball squad.
“It’s definitely something that we can look at, to just see how they don’t give up,” Bentley said. “They’re always playing hard, no matter what the circumstances are.”
Separated at birth?
When asked which South Carolina football player was the best basketball player – not counting tight end/guard Evan Hinson – Bentley didn’t hesitate. It’s redshirt freshman offensive lineman Will Putnam.
“He looks just like Gonzaga’s center,” Bentley said. “They look exactly the same. He’s pretty good.”
South Carolina offensive lineman Will Putnam and Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski may or may not have been separated at birth pic.twitter.com/UGz4LQuB0d
— Hale McGranahan (@Hale_SECcountry) March 27, 2017
Good, bad or indifferent
Junior wide receiver Deebo Samuel named Hinson as the best basketball player on the football. When instructed that redshirt freshman from Deltona, Fla. did not count in the SEC Country poll, Samuel balked.
“Deebo’s pretty good, but I don’t know,” junior left tackle Malik Young said. “I couldn’t really tell you who the best is.”
Young went on to share an interesting basketball tidbit on left guard Donell Stanley.
“I know Donell, he can surprise you. He can dunk and all that,” Young said.
For real. A 6-foot-4, 317-pound offensive lineman can dunk a basketball.
“(Seen it) with my own eyes,” Young said. “He can dunk.”
Young didn’t want to throw any of his teammates under the bus, when asked who the worst basketball player on the football team. Bentley wasn’t afraid to take the low road.
“The worst,” Bentley said, before pausing. “Michael Almond’s pretty bad. He struggles on the court.”