South Carolina basketball has a long history. Some of that history is very good, and some of it is…well…not so good. The Gamecocks have always, though, had some elite college basketball players wearing the garnet and black.
The program’s success in putting those great collegiate players into the NBA is lower than one might expect. A few former Gamecocks have gone on to elite NBA careers, and a slew of others were serviceable in the world’s best basketball league. But which of these South Carolina basketball alums had the best NBA careers?
PJ Dozier, Chris Silva, and AJ Lawson: The Gamecock trio of PJ Dozier (2015-2017), Chris Silva (2015-2019), and AJ Lawson (2018-2021) are all still in the NBA. Dozier played with the Sacramento Kings last season, Silva is currently playing in Summer League with the Dallas Mavericks, and Lawson is playing alongside Silva with the Mavericks.
All three players have had extended stretches in the league in recent seasons and are looking to stick with a team and continue their careers.
Justin Minaya and Anthony Gill: Justin Minaya (2017-2021) and Anthony Gill (2011-2012) were both combo forwards who transferred out of the South Carolina basketball program. Both players made their way through the G League and into the NBA. Minaya is active with the Portland Trail Blazers, and Gill is active with the Washington Wizards.
Brent Price: Another transfer away from the South Carolina basketball team, Brent Price (1987-1989) had a long NBA career after graduating from Oklahoma University. Price logged over 2000 points and 1000 assists as a backup point guard for several franchises. He was also one of the most efficient 3-point shooters in the game in the 1990s. His lone season as a starter saw him score 10 points and dish out 5 assists per night.
Jo Jo English: Jo Jo English (1988-1992) was one of the best athletes to play for the Gamecocks. After competing with Michael Jordan in a dunk contest while English was still in high school, he went on to become teammates with Jordan with the Chicago Bulls after graduation. English was a backup to His Airness for four seasons but, understandably, never cracked the starting lineup.
Cedrick Hordges: A great player for South Carolina, Cedrick Hordges (1978-1980) spent two years with the Gamecocks after transferring from Auburn. He only spent two years in the NBA but was a productive bench player for the Denver Nuggets alongside fellow Gamecock greats Alex English and John Roche. Hordges left the Association in order to make more money as a starter in Europe.
Tarence Kinsey: Tarence Kinsey (2002-2006) was a teammate of Renaldo Balkman in Columbia and entered the NBA the same season. Kinsey had a tremendous finish to his rookie season, averaging almost 20 points per game as a starter down the stretch for a rebuilding Grizzlies squad that also had young future stars Pau Gasol, Kyle Lowry, and Rudy Gay.
Unfortunately for Kinsey, the Grizz drafted Mike Conley and traded for Jarvaris Crittenton the following season. The two new guards eventually pushed both Kinsey and Kyle Lowry out of town. Kinsey’s NBA career never recovered, but he began a 12-year pro career overseas after spending the 2008-2009 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Jamie Watson: A big and athletic wing player, Jamie Watson (1990-1994) is exactly the archetype of a player that NBA teams look for in the NBA Draft. After being taken by the Utah Jazz, Watson played a key backup role behind Jeff Hornacek, Chris Morris, and Bryon Russell. However, Watson couldn’t score efficiently enough to warrant a larger role and was out of the league in five years.
Watson’s career highlight was finishing third in the NBA’s Dunk Contest.