South Carolina Basketball: Gamecock target up for National Player of the Year honor

South Carolina basketball target AJ Dybantsa (now the #1-ranked player in the class of 2025) is a finalist for National Player of the Year.

South Carolina basketball target AJ Dybantsa
South Carolina basketball target AJ Dybantsa / Marc Vasconcellos/The Enterprise / USA

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris has orchestrated college basketball's most impressive turnaround this season (moving from 11-21 last year to being one of the top teams in the SEC this year). However, he has also laid some groundwork for the future of the program through recruiting.

In the class of 2024, the Gamecocks are bringing in two top-150 players as forward Okku Federiko and wing Trent Noah have signed with the South Carolina basketball program. Federiko is a 4-star versatile frontcourt player who was a high school teammate of current Gamecocks Morris Ugusuk. Noah is one of the top shooters in the class and has some positional versatility at 6'6" and 200 pounds.

In the '25 cycle, Carolina already has two commitments (the only team in the country with two 4-star pledges in the class). Dynamic scoring guard Eli Ellis is a top-60 player who is also a social media dynamo as the MVP at Overtime Elite. Power forward Hayden Assemian is the all-time leading rebounder and shot blocker at Powdersville High School despite having another year left in school, and he just led his team to their first-ever state championship.

Another target for the Gamecocks in the 2025 class is AJ Dybantsa. Dybantsa reclassified from the 2026 class and is now the top-ranked player in the '25 cycle. He picked up an offer from the Gamecocks this winter and already has met with Lamont Paris when his Prolific Prep squad played locally in the Chick-fil-A Classic.

On Wednesday, Dybantsa was named a finalist for the MaxPreps National Player of the Year. He is one of just two underclassmen finalists. He is joined on the list of finalists by Cooper Flagg (#1, 2024), Ace Bailey (#2, 2024), Dylan Harper (#3, 2024), and Cameron Boozer (#2, 2025).

Dybantsa has a ridiculous athletic profile, and his versatile skillset partners with that athleticism to allow him to playanywhere from 2-5. His best role, though, likely will be as a combo forward who abuses wings with his size and length and out-athletes bigs with his quickness and robust skillset. If he develops a consistent jump shot, he will be one of the most dominant players in college basketball as a freshman.

Dybantsa hasn't provided much information related to his recruitment, and South Carolina basketball securing his commitment is a long shot, but he is the type of talent worth monitoring anyway.

You can watch some of his film here.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down from the Gamecocks' loss to Tennessee. South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up, 3 thumbs down from the Gamecocks' loss to Tennessee. dark