Football team catching basketball fever

Wes Mitchell,
Gamecock Central

South Carolina left tackle Malik Young is quick to point out that he's never going to be mistaken for a basketball player or coach.

But Young, like the rest of the University of South Carolina, seems to have caught basketball fever, as the men's basketball team makes its first ever Final Four run.

"I'm happy for them," Young said. "When they first got to the Sweet 16, I was like, 'They might go all the way.' Now they're in the Final Four. I really think they can go all the way, honestly. I don't see why they wouldn't go all the way to the championship."

Young and his football teammates, as well as the rest of the campus, have joined in on this historic run, watching every step of the way.

"It’s been unbelievable," quarterback Jake Bentley said Monday. "We watch every game. There’s a group of guys that we are just in the dorm watching the game. It’s awesome, just to see how hard they play."

Tight end Evan Hinson is probably the easy choice for best basketball player on the football team, considering he's gotten minutes on the actual men's basketball team.

Deebo Samuel, Will Putnam and Donell Stanley were also mentioned as football players notably good at basketball.

Young -- again, not a coach -- did, after some nudging, offer the basketball team his best advice on dealing with Gonzaga's 7-foot-1, 300 pound center, Przemek Karnowski.

"Body him up and don't let him bully you, basically," Young said. "Don't let him bully you inside. Try to use your speed and finesse to get around him."

Bentley, Young and the rest of Columbia will watch the Gamecocks try to do just that Saturday in Phoenix, Ariz. with tipoff at 6:09.

"All the support that’s been rallied around them, from the school, around campus, it’s awesome," Bentley said. You can just see how much excitement they’re bringing to the whole city here. It’s great to see."

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