South Carolina University has long been a breeding ground for exceptional basketball talent. Over the years, numerous athletes have emerged from this esteemed institution to make their mark in both college basketball and the NBA.
- Alex English, a standout forward, graced the courts of South Carolina University from 1972 to 1976. A prolific scorer, English averaged 17.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game during his college career. His exceptional play earned him three All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selections. In the NBA, English’s offensive prowess continued to shine as he became an eight-time All-Star and scored over 25,000 points throughout his 15-year career.
- Jermaine O’Neal, a formidable center, attended South Carolina University for a brief stint in 1996. Despite playing only one season, his impact was profound, averaging an impressive 17.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game. O’Neal entered the NBA directly from high school and enjoyed a successful professional career, earning six NBA All-Star selections.
- BJ McKie, a dynamic guard, showcased his skills at South Carolina University from 1995 to 1999. McKie was a scoring machine, ending his college career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,119 points. He was a three-time All-SEC selection and played a pivotal role in leading the Gamecocks to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1997. Although McKie’s professional career was relatively modest, his contributions to South Carolina basketball remain unforgettable.
- Devan Downey, an electrifying guard, left an indelible mark during his tenure at South Carolina University from 2008 to 2010. Downey’s scoring ability was unrivaled as he averaged 19.8 points per game, earning him SEC scoring titles in both his seasons with the Gamecocks. His memorable performances, including a 30-point outing against Kentucky, propelled South Carolina to the NIT Championship in 2009. Downey’s professional career was modest, but his legacy as one of the greatest Gamecocks remains intact.
- Grady Wallace, a versatile forward, made his presence felt at South Carolina University from 1952 to 1955. Wallace’s prowess on the court was unparalleled, leading him to become the Gamecocks’ all-time leading scorer with 1,800 points. His exceptional college career earned him two All-ACC selections. Although he did not pursue a professional basketball career, Wallace’s impact on South Carolina basketball remains legendary.
- Renaldo Balkman, a high-flying forward, showcased his skills from 2003 to 2006 at South Carolina University. Balkman’s relentless energy and defensive prowess were his trademarks, earning him the 2006 SEC Defensive Player of the Year award. In the NBA, he played for the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets, demonstrating his defensive prowess at the highest level.
- Carlos Powell, a versatile forward, had an impressive four-year career at South Carolina University from 2001 to 2005. Powell’s all-around game was instrumental in leading the Gamecocks to an NIT Championship in 2005. His college career culminated in him being named the SEC Player of the Year. Powell’s professional career took him overseas, where he excelled in various international leagues.
- Sindarius Thornwell, a tenacious guard, left an indelible legacy at South Carolina University from 2013 to 2017. Thornwell’s senior season was particularly exceptional, leading the Gamecocks to their first-ever Final Four appearance in 2017. He was named the SEC Player of the Year and the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. In the NBA, Thornwell has had a modest career, showcasing his defensive skills for the Los Angeles Clippers and the New Orleans Pelicans.
- Mike Dunleavy Sr., a skilled forward, had a remarkable college career at South Carolina University from 1973 to 1976. Dunleavy was a three-time All-ACC selection and played a key role in leading the Gamecocks to an ACC Championship in 1974. After college, he enjoyed a successful NBA career and later transitioned to coaching in the league.
- John Roche, a sharpshooting guard, flourished at South Carolina University from 1969 to 1971. Roche’s scoring ability and leadership skills helped him become the Gamecocks’ all-time leading scorer at the time. He was named the ACC Player of the Year in 1971 and led South Carolina to an ACC Championship. Roche went on to play in the NBA and had a successful career as an attorney.
South Carolina University has produced a remarkable roster of basketball talent, and the ten players highlighted in this article have etched their names in the annals of the sport. Their accomplishments in college, along with their contributions to the NBA, are testaments to their skill, dedication, and passion for the game. These players have not only made their alma mater proud but have also left an enduring legacy that inspires future generations of South Carolina University athletes to strive for greatness on and off the court.