College Sports

Is this ‘different breed’ a fit for Gamecocks? USC makes Peach Jam talent a top target

Call it a staff meeting with a view.

South Carolina basketball coaches — boss Frank Martin and assistants Chuck Martin and Bruce Shingler — gathered on the same baseline in the same gym two straight days this week. Their collective focus was on one of the top players in the 2019 Peach Jam.

Through four games of Nike’s annual summer AAU tournament, Team Durant’s Earl Timberlake is averaging 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound linebacker-looking guard from Washington, D.C., is ranked by 247Sports Composite as the nation’s 28th-best prospect in the 2020 class. He’s No. 29 on Rivals’ list and No. 38 on ESPN’s list.

Timberlake will soon commit to a college. It could be North Carolina, which offered in late June. It could be nearby Maryland. It could be Louisville or Providence or any of the 40-some schools involved in his recruitment.

Including USC.

The Gamecocks hosted Timberlake the second weekend of June.

“Biggest takeaway? The family vibe I got from it,” Timberlake said of the visit. “That’s my biggest takeaway. It’s all close-knit, the way the team was and stuff like that. They’re always with each other.”

And talking about Timberlake, apparently. The four-star talent said Friday he hears often from not only Frank Martin and Shingler, but from the Carolina players.

“They say they need me and stuff like that,” Timberlake said.

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Though he’s some 480 miles away from Columbia, Timberlake is surrounded by a couple key USC connections. No. 1, he attends DeMatha Catholic High School with MarShawn Lloyd, a stud running back already pledged to Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks.

“Ever since his commitment and he found out they were recruiting me,” Timberlake said of Lloyd, “he’s wanted me to come to school with him.”

Timberlake and Lloyd are friends. Timberlake and Shingler go deeper.

“I talk to him a lot,” Timberlake said. “He’s like family. I’ve known since seventh, eighth grade.”

Shingler is a former high school and AAU coach in the D.C. area. Before coming to USC, he worked in Baltimore as part of Towson’s staff.

“I mean, it’s relationships,” said Team Durant coach Osman Bangura. “Earl being from D.C. and then Bruce being there from as well, you kind of relate, understand what it’s like. It’s not him going out there by himself. He’ll have somebody that’s kind of been through what he’s been through.

“I think that relationship is there. I think it’s a connection.”

Timberlake said his next move is to sit down with his parents and begin trimming his list of schools. It’s likely South Carolina will remain in the mix. A second visit has yet to be scheduled, but a source told The State that the Gamecocks will try to get Timberlake down for the weekend of the Alabama football game.

“When you look at a kid that can defend at a high level, can guard 1-through-4, and the way they play at South Carolina, it just kind of aligns,” Bangura said. “But again that’s a decision that their family has to make. But I love their style of play.

“And when you look at it, it kind of aligns with what Earl does as well.”

Frank Martin was there Thursday to see Timberlake block a 7-footer’s dunk attempt and complete a four-point play. He was there Friday to see Timberlake weave through a defense and finish in traffic.

There’s potential for an ideal match.

“I’m a different breed,” Timberlake said. “I don’t mind being cursed out and stuff like that. I’m used to it. When I’m coached hard, I play better.”

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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