By Jeff Owens/Photo by Jenny Dilworth
Frank Martin was in the South Carolina gym Wednesday morning when he ran into senior Duane Notice, who was working out on his own.
"When he was done, we sat around and we started reminiscing a little bit," Martin said.
The next morning, he talked to senior Sindarius Thornwell, who was flying back from the NBA Draft combine in Chicago. He's also been in contact with Justin McKie, who is contemplating his post-graduate plans.
This weekend, Martin will watch his three seniors walk across the stage at Colonial Life Arena as 104 current and former South Carolina athletes will receive their diplomas in graduation ceremonies.
It will be a proud and emotional weekend for Martin and the three players who led South Carolina to its greatest basketball season in school history. Behind the play and leadership of Thornwell, Notice and McKie, the Gamecocks won a school-record 26 games and advanced to the Final Four for the first time in school history.
Martin was emotional when talking about his three seniors following their final game. Saturday will be another one of those days.
"This weekend is powerful," Martin said on Thursday. "To see their families in town and to see them walk across (that stage) … When you take into consideration what they accomplished for us athletically and for the community and now what they are achieving with a degree, that's some powerful moments right there."
Thornwell is expected to be selected in the upcoming NBA Draft and is working out for teams interested in possibly drafting him. Notice also hopes to get a shot at playing professionally. McKie is trying to decide whether to attend law school or possibly pursue a career in acting.
Thornwell could join teammate P.J. Dozier in the NBA Draft. Dozier declared for the draft after his sophomore season and is projected to possibly go late in the first round. Thornwell could also rise into the first round after pre-draft workouts.
Martin has spoken with NBA scouts and executives and is excited about the prospects of both players.
"Right now, the conversations I have had are extremely positive on both guys," Martin said. "I'm excited for both of those guys. They came in and they gave of themselves to build our program and every conversation I have had with NBA folks they are extremely excited on both of them."