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USC Coach Martin Fights The Unwinnable Fight

South Carolina’s Frank Martin is asking for it. 

The new Gamecock basketball coach has granted a release to 6-9 sophomore Damontre Harris who wishes to transfer.  So far, so good.  But he’s not going to let him transfer to NC State.  And he’s going to take some heat for that stance.

Just ask Derek Dooley at Tennessee who tried to ban DeAnthony Arnett from transferring to Michigan or Michigan State.  Or ask Maryland coach Randy Edsall who tried to ban a number of transfers from jumping to Vanderbilt.  They learned that the court of public opinion usually comes down on the side of the teenager, not the millionaire coach and his multi-million dollar sports program.

In this case — as was also the case with Dooley and Edsall who both eventually buckled — it’s believed some tampering has occurred.  You see, ex-South Carolina assistant Orlando Early is now at NCSU.  Harris’ high school coach, Heath Vandevender, says he thinks that’s the issue:

“Frank told Tre that (Carolina AD) Eric Hyman would not release him to NC State… My opinion would be that Eric feels that Orlando tampered in some way with Tre.

That’s just simply not true.  If that’s his reasoning, then that’s not very good. … I just think the whole thing is ridiculous.”

We agree.  In this case, Harris has seen the coach he signed to play for — Darrin Horn — fired.  He’s seen fellow starter Anthony Gill be granted an unrestricted release to transfer.  And he’s now learned that fellow starter Bruce Ellington will once again play football and miss the start of USC’s hoops season.

There are a lot of things going on there and none are within Harris’ control.

“I know they struggled last year, but there’s a chance for them to struggle even more (next season),” said Vandevender, trying to explain why Harris wants out.

If Harris wanted to transfer inside the SEC, that would be one issue.  But NC State is in the ACC.  And surprisingly USC has apparently put no restrictions on other SEC institutions.  (Harris’ high school coach said Florida and Georgia have contacted him about his ex-player’s services already.) 

So it’s better to face Harris inside the conference than allow him to go outside it? 

Martin’s position is understandable.  He — and Hyman — don’t want other school’s coaches poaching their Gamecock players.

But coaches rarely win these types of PR battles.  When the smoke clears, it’s still a millionaire coach at a mega-institution blocking the options and impacting the future of a kid.

Martin and Hyman had better be prepared to have this used against them on the recruiting trail… unless they cave like so many other coaches and schools have before them.

Better to cave now and get it over with.

Sidenote – The Tulsa World reports today that Jordan Clarkson — the Golden Hurricane’s leading scorer last season — has been “granted permission to contact a limited number of schools.”  Of eight schools requested by the player as possible transfer destinations only Colorado, TCU and Vanderbilt have been given new coach Danny Manning’s seal of approval.

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