USC gets a true man for the middle

April 20, 2012 

Laimonas Chatkevicius

When USC coach Frank Martin signed center Laimonas Chatkevicius of Lithuania on Friday, he landed the Gamecocks' first true 7-foot center in decades.

Though previously listed at 6-10, Chatkevicius' coach at South Kent Prep in Connecticut said Friday night he's now 7 feet tall and weighs 245 pounds.

And Kelvin Jefferson said Chatkevicius is a legitimate post player.

"He's a very skilled player with great hands and great skills with his back to the basket," Jefferson said. "He can catch it and score a lot of ways. He has the ability to step out and has a nice touch from the perimeter."

Chatkevicius (pronounced Chat-kuh-vi-shis) originally was ticketed for Kansas State, having signed with Martin in November. But he got a release from there earlier this week, visited USC and signed Friday.

Last season he averaged around 14 points and 8 rebounds per game and shot 60 percent from the floor.

"He's a good defender, not a great shot blocker, but he does alter a lot of shots with his size," Jefferson said. "He will definitely be able to help those guys."

Chatkevicius and 6-foot-8 fellow Lithuanian Minda Kacinas signed with the Gamecocks at the same time. The papers for both have been sent to Lithuania for their parents to sign to make the commitment official.

The two are friends from their time in their native country.

Martin had four total commitments Thursday and Friday.

He replaced Darrin Horn, who was fired in March after USC finished with a 10-21 record (2-14 in the SEC).

Martin had five scholarships available with the expected departures of two of Horn’s top recruits from last season, Anthony Gill and Damontre Harris.

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