South Carolina Basketball: Gamecock star hits the transfer portal

South Carolina basketball star Meechie Johnson is hitting the transfer portal.

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris with former guard Meechie Johnson
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris with former guard Meechie Johnson / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball's season ended just a few days ago in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament. It was a great season for Lamont Paris and the Gamecocks, and fans already have begun to speculate as to how Paris will augment his roster with the transfer portal to take USC to the next level as a program.

On Monday, the first real transfer portal news surrounding the program came to light, but it wasn't an addition.

In a bit of a surprising move, South Carolina basketball star Meechie Johnson is entering the transfer portal per a report from On3's Joe Tipton.

Johnson, who began his career at Ohio State, was a fan favorite in Columbia and led the Gamecocks in scoring this season. On the year, he averaged 14.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game and drastically improved his defense from a season ago.

Rumors have already begun circulating the internet that Johnson could be returning to Ohio State. The Buckeyes recently hired Jake Diebler to take over for the fired Chris Holtmann, who Johnson played for when he was in Columbus.

The move comes as a big blow to the 2024-2025 version of the South Carolina Gamecocks as Johnson was expected to play a prominent role on a team looking to challenge for the SEC title once again.

Johnson posted a message on Instagram about his departure, stating that "Gamecock Nation will always have a place in [his] heart" and that "Coach Paris...is [his] guy forever." Johnson also will be testing NBA Draft water but is not expected to be selected if he declares.

Johnson's departure means that at least three Gamecock starters will not be with the program next year as Ta'Lon Cooper and BJ Mack are out of eligibility. With just two incoming freshmen in the 2024 recruiting class (top-100 versatile forward Okku Federiko and sharpshooting wing Trent Noah), the Gamecocks have two available scholarships (right now) to utilize in the transfer portal this offseason.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: Lamont Paris wins National Coach of the Year. South Carolina Basketball: Lamont Paris wins National Coach of the Year. dark