South Carolina’s Cinderella run has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean the Gamecocks cannot leave at least one more lasting impact on March Madness.
Head coach Frank Martin is nothing if not passionate, and for a roster that boasted three seniors who all made lasting impacts on both Saturday night’s Final Four matchup with Gonzaga and throughout the tournament, it’s hard for a head coach not to get attached.
Martin watched players like Sindarius Thornwell give blood, sweat and tears to the South Carolina program. Seeing Thornwell's college career come to an end in Saturday's 77-73 loss to Gonzaga hit Martin hard.
"These kids are great role models," Martin said in South Carolina’s post-game press conference. "There’s a lot of young kids that want to be the next Sindarius Thornwell, Justin McKie, and I don't get to coach them anymore, but they're part of my life forever."
Thornwell finished his college career with 1,926 points, 681 rebounds and 389 assists. He was leading the field in points per game during the NCAA Tournament heading into the Final Four.
Justin McKie and Duane Notice also will graduate from the Gamecocks roster.
"There's something powerful when you impact others," Martin said. "And what these kids have done is pretty special. When you get people to travel across the country by the masses because they believe in what you do, it's powerful stuff. And they've impacted our community in an unbelievable way, which is worth so much more than the score of a game."