(Note: The following story also appeared here on GamecockCentral.com.)
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin has been on Demetrius Henry from the start.
On Wednesday, Martin got his guy.
Henry, a 6-foot-9 stretch power forward, who attended Brandon (Fla.) Faith Baptist Christian School, committed to play for the Gamecocks at Northeast High, his former school.
Henry said he picked South Carolina over nearby Miami because of his relationship with Martin, who is heading into his second season at the helm. Henry informed Martin of his decision on Monday, after already deciding on the Gamecocks the week before.
“I believed in Frank Martin, and he believed in me,” Henry said.
Henry said his relationship with Gamecocks assistant coach Lamont Evans – a former coach for Team Breakdown in the AAU circuit which Henry played for – “carried over” into his recruiting process.
Henry also singled out fellow incoming freshman Sindarius Thornwell as a close friend as they have been talking on a weekly basis since exchanging numbers in October.
“I saw how much (Thornwell) believed in Frank Martin and I was like ‘Wow,’” Henry said. “This is going to be something special.”
Despite coming to a conclusion on his decision last week, Henry said choosing South Carolina over Miami was one that kept him up at night.
“I can’t even lie – Until last week, I was definitely 50-50,” Henry said. “There were nights I would wake up and be like ‘I’m definitely going to Miami.’ And then there would be nights I wake up and ‘I’m definitely going to South Carolina.’ I just felt South Carolina would be a great choice.”
Henry, who is most effective on the lower block and inside the paint, will be a key addition to a Gamecocks squad going under a major overhaul heading into Martin’s second season with the team.
On Monday, CBSSports.com reported assistant coach Brad Underwood will take over the helm at Stephen F. Austin. Henry’s commitment adds to the mayhem as he joins a loaded 2013 class alongside Thornwell, Reggie Theus Jr., Desmond Ringer, Justin McKie, Jaylen Shaw, Duane Notice. Point guard transfer Tyrone Johnson from Vanderbilt will also be eligible to play in Spring 2014. With the seven additions and 10 incumbents from last year’s team, South Carolina will need four players to transfer to meet the maximum number for players allowed per NCAA rules.
For Henry, he is looking forward to competing for playing time with the talent he’s surrounded by.
“(Martin) definitely said I have a great chance to start,” Henry said. “It’s just one of those things where I’m making sure I work hard every day. He said it won’t be easy, and I don’t expect it to be. I’m definitely the type of guy to work and earn everything.”
Northeast and Team Breakdown teammate Malik Price-Martin, who holds offers from South Carolina, Miami, national champion Louisville, Florida, Florida St., Ohio St., Syracuse, Central Florida and Southern California, attended Henry’s announcement.
Price-Martin, who will follow Henry’s footsteps and attend Faith Baptist Christian next year, said he has not narrowed in on a school just yet.
“Everything is just wide open right now,” Price-Martin said. “I don’t have no favorites, no list. I haven’t committed anywhere. Everything is just pretty much open.”
On the idea of playing with Henry, Price-Martin said he would “love it” before taking a dig at his friend.
“I told him I wouldn’t go to college with him because he don’t pass the ball enough,” Price-Martin quipped.
That didn’t stop Henry – who told Price-Martin of his decision last week before the announcement – from firing back.
“That’s what he’s always saying,” Henry said. “He don’t pass the ball, man.”