USC MEN’S BASKETBALL

Martin knows Clowney can make an impact

Ellington likely to miss S.C. State game as he recuperates from football

pobley@thestate.comJanuary 3, 2013 

Frank Martin was in a suite at Raymond James Stadium this past Tuesday when Jadeveon Clowney separated Michigan running back Vincent Smith from the ball and his helmet.

Thursday, the USC men’s basketball coach was asked how Clowney — who played basketball in high school — could be utilized with the 9-3 Gamecocks.

“I’d put helmets on the guys on the other team,” Martin said. “Every once in a while, I’d throw a football on the court. That kind of physicality and athleticism? You can find a space for that in a basketball game.”

It was a moment of jest for Martin, whose roster situation is no laughing matter. Martin spent Thursday meeting with school officials about the academic status of fifth-year senior LaShay Page, who remains separated from the team until the issue is settled. Bruce Ellington is recuperating from the Outback Bowl and Michael Carrera continues to be sidelined with an ailing left hip.

“As of right now, there’s still no resolution,” Martin said of Page’s status. “We don’t expect this to delay more than another day or so, but as of right now, that academic glitch has not changed, therefore, he is still not allowed to dress.”

Ellington will be cooling his heels at Martin’s behest.

“I’ve put that helmet on before. After six months, that body takes a toll,” Martin said. “The kid hasn’t caught his breath in more than a year, so I asked him to go catch your breath, be around, listen, but take practice off. Don’t worry about competing until next week.”

Martin said Ellington will dress on Saturday against S.C. State, but likely will not see any time on the court.

Carrera’s status is more open-ended. The hip has bothered him for about a month, according to Martin. The team has tried various approaches, from holding him out of practice to having him skip the Presbyterian game last week. For now, he’ll stay on the shelf.

“He won’t play Saturday, either,” Martin said.

Martin said he won’t put a timetable on Carrera’s return.

“I’ve got no idea,” he said. “He’s got a hip issue there. It’s not career-threatening, but stress makes it worse. So, he’s got to rest it.

“He might go out for the swim team for as much time as he’s spent in the pool the last 10 days,” Martin added.

With Carleton Geathers still sidelined as he recovers from his knee injury, USC is looking at a second consecutive game with eight scholarship players available, so Clowney would be a welcome addition, should he choose to don a jersey.

That said, Clowney’s influence on next season’s Gamecocks basketball team is already being felt. If not for Clowney’s prowess on the football field in high school, 2013 hoops recruit Sindarius Thornwell’s name might not have come up at all.

“(Thornwell) quit playing football because he got hit by Clowney when he was a sophomore in high school in a football game,” Martin said.

Indeed, Thornwell was a quarterback for Lancaster that season. It was his last.

Said Martin: “He said, ‘I’m not playing football anymore because that hurt.’ ”

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