Martin expects Sheppard to be ‘fast healer,’ be ready for next season

dcloninger@thestate.comJuly 2, 2014 

Frank Martin

DALE ZANINE — USA TODAY Sports

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A day after announcing that freshman Shamiek Sheppard has a torn ACL and will most likely miss the 2014-15 season, South Carolina coach Frank Martin expressed his remorse for the young man.

Surrounded by dozens of small children at his Little Gamecocks Camp on Wednesday, Martin spoke of coaching, in basketball and in his personal life, and of how it’s unfortunate for a player who overcame so much to get to college and then have to sit out a season.

“He’s a kid that’s fought to overcome, to climb out of his neighborhood in Brooklyn that surrounded some difficult circumstances and go to a military school in Virginia to become an academic qualifier, and then turn around and kind of have all his rewards, for all his work, to come his way by accepting a scholarship to a high-major place,” Martin said.

“When kids make mistakes, I really don’t feel bad for them. It’s part of growing up. I help them through it. When injury sets in, it’s not like they did anything to deserve to get hurt.”

Sheppard will undergo surgery this week. While it’s possible that he could be at 100 percent this season, Martin said that it’s very unlikely that he would spoil a redshirt season.

“I’m not going to jeopardize a season of eligibility to play him for four games at the end of the year,” Martin said. “That’s not fair to him. Everyone in his past has told me, ‘He’ll be back because he’s a fast healer.’ Someone who’s muscular and naturally strong as he is, yeah, those guys come back a little faster. But first of all, it’s in God’s hands how he recovers.”

Sheppard had helped with USC’s camps, being an enthusiastic counselor at all of the sessions. While it hurts to lose him, Martin is very encouraged by the rest of the team’s work during the summer.

“What I like is we’re in workouts, and I see (Marcus) Stroman trying to go with Ty Johnson and Ty Johnson just taking advantage of his inexperience, but then helping him,” Martin said. “I see Sindarius (Thornwell) not letting TeMarcus (Blanton) not feel very comfortable about anything. But I don’t see TeMarcus taking a step back, either. We’ve had some things in place we haven’t had before.”

Coaching his team during the summer and coaching children who might someday be part of his team is the reward. Even when he has to pluck campers away from wrestling over loose basketballs to instruct, it’s all worth it.

“I’ve got a 15-year-old, that’s the biggest coaching job I got every day,” Martin said. “The innocence of kids this age is beautiful to be around. Once it gets to 15, they think they know every answer, so they don’t want to listen anymore. It becomes a different challenge.”

James Thompson. Martin has no further update on signee James Thompson as the legal process runs its course. Thompson was arrested in June for an alleged assault of his girlfriend.

“There’s not much I can say,” Martin said. “He’s an awesome kid, and we just got to sit back and see what happens.”

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