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July 7, 2009South Carolina's basketball team is almost complete.
Guard Ramon Galloway said on Sunday that he was cleared to begin classes at USC today, meaning three of the Gamecocks' four signees are on campus. The fourth, junior-college transfer Johndre Jefferson, is completing two classes at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and said he anticipates no problems toward enrolling for the fall semester.
Galloway, the 6-foot-3 guard out of Dwyer (Fla.) High School, was in his native Philadelphia on Sunday evening. He said he was planning on flying to Columbia on Monday and getting acclimated to school before classes began for the Summer II session today.
"I think we're going to be awesome," Galloway said, predicting the Gamecocks' success in 2009-10. "I can't wait to get out on the floor."
Galloway seems to be an integral part of the Gamecocks for this year and beyond. It seems natural to think he can step right into the spot vacated by Zam Fredrick, working with Devan Downey as USC's starting backcourt.
Galloway can learn beside Downey for a season, helping spell him at the point, and be ready for the next year, when Downey will be gone. The rookie has the ability to play both guard positions -- it's just a matter of getting him time at each spot when the balls roll out, and also seeing if he's good enough to rise past Brandis Raley-Ross to play right away.
"Ramon is actually a guy that's kind of just a player," coach Darrin Horn said at his mid-summer update. "He's a guy that will play at the point some and just sort of an all-purpose guy."
Galloway was as excited as the home folks when he heard Downey and Dominique Archie were returning for their senior years. Not only does it promote hopes of USC improving on its 21-win season, but it eases the burden on Galloway, a true freshman, trying to replace Downey right away.
"I was real happy when I heard that," Galloway said. "It's a chance for me to learn beside one of the best players in the country and learn the system."
The sentiment was also expressed by Jefferson, who's finishing his transfer requirements near his hometown of Santee. He still gets in some basketball, driving to Columbia to play pickup with some members of the team, and expects to be on campus in August.
"I feel like we're going to be real good," he said. "I feel we can compete at a high level. I think we can get to the tournament."
Jefferson was complimentary of Lakeem Jackson and Steve Spinella, the two Summer I enrollees who he's gotten to know. Playing pickup has given him an early insight to what they'll bring to the floor.
"Spinella, he can flat-out shoot it," Jefferson said. "He can get it in from anywhere. Lakeem is just an all-around player. He can drive, he can penetrate, he can stop and shoot, everything."
With Galloway joining the fray, the competition should be ratcheted. Championships can be won in the summer, as the motto says, and the four newest Gamecocks seem to be taking that seriously.
"It's going to be a fun year," Galloway said. "It's something I've always dreamed about, playing college ball, and I can't wait to do it."