Monte Lee makes it known he wants South Carolina job: ‘I know what it takes to win’

Monte Lee publicly made his interest known in the vacant South Carolina baseball head coaching job on Thursday.

The Gamecocks assistant and former Clemson head coach discussed the topic during an interview on Teddy Heffner’s “Talking Sports” show on Columbia’s Fox 1400 AM.

“I hope I get the opportunity,” Lee said during an interview that lasted about 30 minutes. “We’ll see how this thing goes.”

The Gamecocks are looking to replace Mark Kingston, who was fired Monday a day after South Carolina was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. Kingston has been the head coach for the past seven seasons. USC made it to two Super Regional appearances and four NCAA Tournaments with him, but that isn’t the kind of consistent success the program has enjoyed through the years.

Lee was named USC’s interim coach Monday and has been mentioned as a candidate along with East Carolina’s Cliff Godwin, Duke’s Chris Pollard, Wake Forest’s Tom Walter, Louisville’s Dan McDonnell and Tennessee assistant Josh Elander.

Lee, in Thursday’s interview, declined to say if he has interviewed for the job yet. The former Lugoff-Elgin High standout is in his second year as USC’s hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. It’s his second stint with the Gamecocks after working on then-coach Ray Tanner’s staff from 2003-08.

Tanner, of course, is now South Carolina’s athletic director and is looking to hire a third baseball coach since he stepped away from the program after the 2012 season.

Lee has 14 years of head coaching experience with stops at College of Charleston and Clemson. He led CofC to a Super Regional and the Tigers to four straight NCAA appearances.

“I know what it takes to win,” Lee said.

It’s been a busy few days for Lee, who conducted exit interviews with returning USC players on Monday. Five Gamecocks have announced their intentions to enter the transfer portal, but none of those players were significant contributors to this year’s team.

The transfer portal for baseball opened Monday, and players have until July 2 to enter.

“What I know is, I had exit meetings with every player in the program and the guys that I met with all want to be at South Carolina and have indicated that they’re going to stay at South Carolina,” Lee said. “We all know things change. I feel very, very good that if this does work out and I’m the man for the job that we’ll be able to hold on to the roster.”

Lee and the remaining USC coaches also have been actively recruiting since Monday. The Gamecocks got a pledge from North Myrtle Beach Class of 2025 pitcher Luke Roupe on Tuesday and Winthrop transfer pitcher Caleb Jones on Monday. Roupe was previously committed to Vanderbilt.

USC is expected to host or meet with other transfers in the coming days. According to The Big Spur’s John Whittle, The Citadel’s Sawyer Reeves and Luke Kissenberth; USC Upstate’s Noah Sullivan; and UNC Asheville’s Robbie Burnett are among those players.

Sawyer Reeves is the brother of USC catcher Dalton Reeves. Lee has a strong connection to the Reeves family. Dalton Reeves, a senior on last year’s South Carolina team, said Wednesday on Phil Kornblut’s “SportsTalk” Show that Lee was one of the main reasons he transferred from Presbyterian to USC.

“I’m sitting here looking at north of 20 hitters that I am trying to talk to and get on campus,” Lee said. “(Pitching coach) Matt Williams is doing an excellent job recruiting the pitching side of things. We are working as hard as we can to address the needs of the program, and that’s what we are going to continue to do in the short term until we know a little bit more about the status of the program.

“We’ve got a responsibility. And if I am the next head coach, I want to make sure that we are in a good position.”