Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
Did Sindarius Thornwell's play in the NCAA Tournament make him a first-round pick?

How Sindarius Thornwell played his way into the NBA Draft’s first round

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

On the heels of a strong NCAA Tournament run, the reigning SEC Player of Year is making his way toward the first round in the latest NBA draft projections …

RELATED: South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell rising in NBA mock drafts

“Now, Thornwell is seeing his name rise up the NBA draft boards, with NBADraft.net having the SEC Player of the Year as the No. 32 pick — the second pick of the second round,” reported Mike Wilson. “DraftExpress has Thornwell as the No. 48 pick in the draft.”

With his tenacious defense and fearless offensive ability, Thornwell stole the hearts of March Madness fans everywhere in leading the Gamecocks to their first-ever Final Four.

The Lancaster, S.C., native averaged 23.6 points and 7 boards per game in South Carolina’s five tournament games.

Beyond the box score, Thornwell’s team-first mentality is something that NBA scouts could find really attractive …

“He sells out for the team, he does what he can for the team and I’m not afraid to say he was the best two-way player in college basketball this season,” CBS Sports’ Sam Vecenie told Garnet & Black Attack. “I felt that way all season and I feel like he’s proven over the course of the tournament as the best player in the entire thing.”

‘We want Zion!’

Zion Williamson-South Carolina
The Gamecocks’ run to the Final Four caught the eye of No. 2 overall recruit for 2018.

But does Zion Williamson want us?

That is yet to be determined, but the 5-star small forward did speak highly of USC hoops and the accomplishments of both the men’s and women’s programs in his latest blog post …

RELATED: Five-star hoopster Zion Williamson shared some insight on his recruitment

“I will definitely say that I was proud to see South Carolina’s run to the Final Four, with me being from here. Most people think that we’re just a football state, but with what coach (Frank) Martin and coach (Dawn) Staley were able to accomplish this year, I think it shows that we’ve got great basketball in the state, too.”

The post is part of Williamson’s ongoing series for USA Today.

Former USC DE picks transfer destination

#FreeBoosie? Former Gamecocks defensive end Boosie Whitlow is headed elsewhere. (Hale McGranahan/SEC Country)

Former South Carolina player Boosie Whitlow will be transferring to Louisville, according to a report from Scout.com’s Michael McCammon.

Whitlow will best be remembered for a promising freshman campaign in Columbia that saw him post 14 tackles and 5 tackles for loss.

RELATED: Former South Carolina DL Boosie Whitlow will transfer to Louisville

For whatever reason, the Opelika, Ala., native had trouble finding a spot in new head coach Will Muschamp’s defense, leading to a redshirt year in 2016.

So long, Boosie. Make some plays against Clemson for us!

Gamecocks rocked in Charlotte

South Carolina came up flat in its bid for revenge against North Carolina on Tuesday night.

RELATED: South Carolina baseball blown out, allows 20 runs to North Carolina

The Tar Heels topped the Gamecocks, 20-5. UNC has now beaten South Carolina by a total score of 35-5 in the last two games between the schools.

The #FireHolbrook contingent will likely be louder than ever the rest of the week, but personally, I wouldn’t read too much into the score.

Sometimes, it’s just not your night — and Tuesday was most definitely not the Gamecocks’.

The sweet taste of victory

Two of my favorite things have come together in one glorious package: The Gamecocks and Coca-Cola. (I’m an Atlanta native, c’mon.)

RELATED: Coca-Cola honors South Carolina Gamecocks with commemorative cans

The commemorative six-packs will be available starting April 17.

Into the Crystal Ball …

Lavonte Valentine-Florida Gators recruiting
Lavonte Valentine is a name to watch in the 2018 cycle. (Courtesy of Lavonte Valentine)

Some interesting movement in the latest Crystal Ball predictions from 247Sports …

  • The Big Spur’s JC Shurburtt sees the Gamecocks in the future for 3-star WR Jatavious Harris.
  • Both Shurburtt and colleague Tony Morrell have logged picks for USC with 3-star RB Lavonte Valentine — a fast-rising prospect who boasts offers from major programs like South Carolina, Florida, LSU, Southern Cal and Tennessee.