Sindarius Thornwell was the jewel of Frank Martins second recruiting class, the highest-ranked of the pledges who committed early in the process. Befitting the expectations, he came in and played well, starting every game of his burgeoning career and scoring in double figures in six of his first eight games.
Hes averaging 10.7 points, third on the team, and should continue to start.
Its the only way to work through what most freshmen go through finding out that its not always as easy as it is at first.
Just learning, Thornwell said after the Gamecocks loss at No. 10 Florida earlier in the week. I think I got too comfortable because I thought some games would be easier.
Thornwells athleticism was on display early in the year as the Gamecocks were figuring out what they had theres only so much that can be gleaned from practice. Martin let his players freelance a bit on offense, working within the system but also auditioning for future roles.
Those roles would be used in situations against certain teams or defenses, or whenever the Gamecocks had to have a basket. Martin had to find out which players he could depend on to score when USC needed points.
Thornwell is one of those players. Able to run around or through defenders to get to the rim or spot up in the corner for a 3-pointer, Thornwell is the classic matchup problem that teams covet. He was able to turn loose early in the schedule, using the new blood makeup to get past opponents.
But film gets out. Tendencies are discussed. Thornwell found it harder to get open looks, and wasnt sure if he should demand the ball, since he was a freshman and there were guys on the team who had been there before.
After the hot start, Thornwell has cooled in scoring and in shot attempts. He was in double figures once in five games, and his shooting read like a mountain road as he went through stretches of tight defense and/or foul trouble. In his final two nonconference games, Thornwell was a combined 2-for-9 for 11 points.
We have not had time to show Sin, Hey, this is what youre doing wrong, associate head coach Matt Figger said earlier in the week. Typical freshman stuff. Hes got to find his way through it. Hes the one thats got to make those adjustments. Knowing Sin, I believe he will.
Thornwell played well against No. 10 Florida earlier in the week, scoring 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting. That he did it against the best defense in the SEC was what USC hopes is a confidence-booster. Going against LSU, a burly but athletic team, the Gamecocks will need Thornwell to establish position and get the Tigers defense uncomfortable.
He feels ready.
It will all come together, he said. You just have a short mind. You keep working. Thats all you can do.
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