South Carolina head men's basketball coach Frank Martin enjoys talking about basketball. It doesn't even have to be about his team, but just basketball in general.
Fresh off a Final Four appearance, Martin is going to be talking about basketball for pretty much the entire summer.
That journey started on Thursday when Martin traveled to the Upstate to be the featured speaker at the Spartanburg County Gamecock Club spring meeting. In front of a crowd of well over 100 people, Martin walked through his team's journey to the Final Four, highlighting all of the amazing moments along the way.
"We're really excited, we always like to have events like this here and get the Gamecock fans together," Spartanburg County Gamecock Club President Lee Thornton said. "It's nice to do things like this in the community, especially with so much Clemson attention in the Upstate."
Martin had a lot of great interaction with fans young and old on Thursday night. He answered questions after his speech for around 30 minutes, and was more than happy to make the nearly two hour drive up to Spartanburg.
"I'm always excited to get out and meet fans and spend time with them," Martin said. "Thank them for, the way I just drove up here, for them getting in their car to come down to (Columbia) on a midweek night to come support our team. We've got unbelievable fans, and I'm just glad that we've been able to build the program."
Ever since the basketball season ended, the support for the men's and women's basketball teams has been overwhelming. Thursday's event in the Upstate is just the start of what promises to be an exciting and busy month.
It's been a long journey for Martin since he took over the program five years ago. However, each year the Gamecocks have improved, and the 2016-17 season was one that everyone will remember for a long time.
"I was at an event in Columbia right before the season started and I was talking to coach Martin, and there was something about him that made you think the season was going to be pretty special," Thornton said. "He was just very confident."
During the NCAA Tournament, Gamecock fans traveled with South Carolina from Greenville to New York all the way to Phoenix to watch the games. Because of that support, Martin will always take the time to interact with fans and go to events like the one with the Spartanburg County Gamecock Club.
"There were more people watching games at bars (in NCAA Tournament) than there were at the arena when I coached my first game five years ago," Martin said. "Fans are excited."
**Story and photo by Kyle Heck**