South Carolina Basketball: Could Gamecocks be getting dynamic freshman back soon?

South Carolina basketball freshman Collin Murray-Boyles playing for Wasatch Academy. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina basketball freshman Collin Murray-Boyles playing for Wasatch Academy. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

South Carolina basketball knocked off Notre Dame at Colonial Life Arena on Tuesday as part of the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. The game was pretty competitive, but the Gamecocks were the better team and separated themselves in the end, winning by 12 by a score of 65-53 to move to 6-0 on the young season.

The Gamecocks’ win streak to open the season is particularly impressive, not just because they’ve already passed the halfway point to last season’s win total (11), but because they’ve started 6-0 despite playing shorthanded. Two freshmen (Arden Conyers and Austin Herro) are planning on redshirting, and another highly-touted youngster hasn’t played yet due to illness.

Collin Murray-Boyles, a top-100 prospect in the class of 2023, has missed more than a month battling mononucleosis, an illness that saps strength and causes weight loss. As a strong and athletic player who can contribute at all three frontcourt positions in the right lineups, Murray-Boyles will need to be fully “back” physically before he can play his game.

According to head coach Lamont Paris, that time might be coming sooner rather than later.

After beating the Irish on Tuesday, in addition to addressing questions about his status as a fashion icon for his signature quarter-zip look, Paris spoke with the media and mentioned that Murray-Boyles has been cleared to return to practice.

The South Carolina basketball headman said that the Columbia native will be available to practice “full go” for the first time on Wednesday but that the team would, understandably, wait for him to recover more before pushing him too much and before using him in a game.

Paris sounded optimistic, however, that the forward would be available to play in a game in the not-too-distant future. The 2nd-year head coach said that he and his staff are hopeful that Murray-Boyles could regain enough weight and strength to return to game action “soon.”

How “soon” that will be is up in the air, but the Gamecocks could err on the side of caution as Carolina will be favorites in every game they play in December other than the rivalry contest against a good Clemson squad. The game against the Tigers is next week and likely too early for a CMB return.

In addition to the Clemson game, South Carolina basketball’s toughest out-of-conference games left on the schedule include a game next week at home against George Washington and a road trip to Greenville, North Carolina to face the East Carolina Pirates. George Washington seems to be an improved team this year, and the ECU game will be USC’s first true road contest of the season.

While no official timeline was given, South Carolina basketball fans probably can expect, as long as things continue to progress well for Collin Murray-Boyles, that they will get a chance to watch the talented freshman play a time or two to get into game shape before SEC play begins January 6th against Mississippi State.

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