South Carolina Basketball: Ranking the top-15 forwards in Gamecock history

South Carolina basketball forward Chris Silva with the big dunk against Gonzaga in the Final Four. Mandatory Credit: Chris Steppig/NCAA Photos/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina basketball forward Chris Silva with the big dunk against Gonzaga in the Final Four. Mandatory Credit: Chris Steppig/NCAA Photos/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports /
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Basketball is an ever-evolving game. The style in which teams play, how positions are identified, and the roles those positions play are constantly changing. This has been seen all across basketball, with every team and at every level, including with the South Carolina basketball program.

For many years, three-guard-two-forward systems and two-guard-three-forward systems dominated the landscape of college basketball. Generally, at least one of the guards operated as a primary facilitator (point guard), and one forward operated as the team’s biggest post presence (center). The other three spots on the floor were more difficult to identify.

In the history of South Carolina basketball, the team has often had three players with guard skills on the floor. For the purposes of these rankings, only players who spent time listed as a small or power forward will be listed as forwards. Centers (and guards) will not be included in this list.

The two forward spots are difficult to differentiate between in the college game, but the Gamecocks have put some really good ones on the floor. Which ones were the best at the 3 and 4 spots?

Honorable Mention

Renaldo Balkman: Renaldo Balkman (2003-2006) was a talented combo forward from New York who had a strange Gamecock career. Only averaging 7 points per game in his career, Balkman started games as soon as his freshman year, spent time glued to the bench, had stretches where he was one of the best players on the team, and finished with an NIT run that saw him be the top player in the tournament.

The NIT Champion (and MVP) logged 41 points, 32 rebounds, 10 steals, and 11 blocks in the tournament’s final three games before becoming a first-round pick of the NBA’s New York Knicks. He spent seven years in the Association before heading overseas, where he still plays after 11 years across the pond.

Keyshawn Bryant: One of the best athletes to ever play for the Gamecocks, Keyshawn Bryant (2018-2022) showed flashes of brilliance in his career but consistency evaded him. Bryant finished his career in the top-50 in Gamecock history in points, rebounds, blocks, and steals. Utilizing his “Covid redshirt,” Bryant left the program for one final season at South Florida after Frank Martin was let go as coach of the Gamecocks.

Tony Shaw: Tony Shaw (1984-1988) was sometimes listed as a guard and sometimes listed as a forward, but he operated in the offense much more as a small forward for the Metro Conference era Gamecocks. Shaw never put up jaw-dropping numbers and battled some injuries in his career, but he did his job and played hard as a compliment to Michael Foster, Linwood Moye, and Terry Dozier.

Brandon Wallace: One of the longest players in Gamecock history, Brandon Wallace (2003-2007) began his career as a reserve forward who used his 7-foot+ wingspan to make an impact blocking shots. He grew into a steady contributor who increased his scoring, rebounding, and blocked shot numbers each year he was on campus. He graduated as the program’s all-time leader in blocks after an All-SEC senior season.

Ryan Stack: Ryan Stack (1994-1998) was ahead of his time. Whereas in today’s basketball, big men who can shoot are the norm, Stack’s shooting touch put him in an awkward situation for most of his career until he and coach Eddie Fogler figured out his best role.

Stack was much more comfortable as a senior when he averaged career highs in minutes, points per game, rebounds, blocks, assists, and free throws. He parlayed that success into a brief NBA stint before becoming one of the best players to ever play professionally in Greece.

Justin Minaya: A tough and gritty player who fit right into Frank Martin’s culture, Justin Minaya (2017-2021) spent four years with the Gamecocks before utilizing the “Covid redshirt” to play as a graduate transfer at Providence. Minaya was a versatile player who played tough defense at both forward spots, allowing him to play a lot of minutes even after a wrist issue compromised his shooting ability for most of his career. He is now in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Andy Bostick: Andy Bostick (1993-1995) began his collegiate career at Spartanburg Methodist College but adapted well to SEC basketball after transferring to the Gamecock program. The small forward avered over 12 points per game during his two seasons in Columbia, including a 29-point barrage in his first-ever Division-1 game.

Al Salvadori: A gangly forward from Wheeling, West Virginia, Al Salvadori (1964-1967) played on two really bad Gamecock teams but helped get the program pointed in the right direction as a senior. The All-ACC forward helped oversee Carolina’s first single-digit loss season since the 1940s, starting a streak that would last a decade.

Ronnie Collins: Ronnie Collins (1961-1964) was a 6’3″ forward from Winnsboro, South Carolina who played bigger than he actually was. Collins averaged over 7 rebounds per game for his career and was one of the best “garbage scorers” in program history, routinely sliding through the lane to get an offensive rebound and put the ball back into the basket. After being a solid player for two seasons, Collins made an All-ACC team as a senior when he scored 23 points per game after developing a reliable mid-range jumper.

John Hudson: A two-year player for the Gamecocks, John Hudson (1987-1989) was an athletic power forward who was one of the best players on two 19-win Gamecock teams in the late ’80s. Hudson made the All-Metro Conference team both years he was in Columbia as he averaged 14.5 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per contest. After his collegiate career, Hudson had a brief stint in the NBA before heading overseas for a decade-long career.

Linwood Moye: Linwood Moye (1984-1986) transferred to Carolina from San Jacinto Junior College and spent two seasons in Columbia. It is a shame he was only a Gamecock for two seasons, because Moye was a big-time player for coach Bill Foster. He logged ten double-doubles in each of his two seasons in garnet and black and scored at least ten points in all but two games of his career.

The Baltimore, Maryland native played alongside two other Baltimore natives at forward in twins Terry and Perry Dozier, and Moye (like Terry Dozier) made an All-Metro Conference Team.