Why Gamecocks’ newest baseball commitment chose South Carolina during coaching search

With the uncertainty of who’ll be South Carolina’s next baseball coach, one thing is certain: Luke Roupe wants to be a Gamecock.

The North Myrtle Beach High rising senior committed to the Gamecocks this week despite the program being in the middle of a coaching search. Mark Kingston was fired Monday, and Roupe committed to USC the following day.

Roupe had been committed to Vanderbilt since his freshman season but had been thinking about backing off that pledge. He grew up a big USC fan and went to as many games as possible despite the two-and-half-hour drive.

Roupe’s father, Matt, played for Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner when he was still the head coach at N.C. State.

“It was kind of an easy decision for me to flip it from somewhere 10 hours away to somewhere that was two-and-a-half hours away,” Roupe told The State. “I want to stay home and be a Gamecock.”

Roupe took an unofficial visit to USC on Friday and met with interim coach Monte Lee. He took a tour of the baseball facility and the campus. Lee and Roupe have a good relationship. Lee started recruiting him when he was head coach at Clemson.

“I’m sitting here looking at north of 20 hitters that I am trying to talk to and get on campus,” Lee said in a radio interview this past week. “(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.”

Lee is a candidate for the USC job and would have Roupe’s seal of approval if he is the next Gamecocks coach.

“I’m confident Ray Tanner will make the right choice. He obviously has had success there. He will pick the guy who is best for the job,” Roupe said. “But I think it will be Monte. He is a really good choice for it.”

Roupe hasn’t been told who the next USC coach will be, only saying that Lee would be his preference because of their relationship in the recruiting process.

Other candidates mentioned for the USC opening include East Carolina’s Cliff Godwin, Wake Forest’s Tom Walter, Tennessee assistant Josh Elander, Virginia’s Brian O’Connor and Duke’s Chris Pollard. Louisville’s Dan McDonnell also had been mentioned but GamecockCentral reported Friday that McDonnell was no longer be in the mix.

“I think South Carolina, no matter who the coach is, is going to succeed. They are full of a bunch of dogs that want to win,” Roupe said.

Getting a talent like Roupe to commit during a coaching search is rare and could help Lee’s case for the job. The right-hander is a power arm whose fastball ranges from 92-95 mph. Diamond Prospects has him as the second-ranked right-handed pitcher in South Carolina behind Gamecock commit Daniel Parker (P-27 Academy) and is the No. 152 player in the country by Perfect Game.

The 6-foot-4 Roupe went 9-1 with a 0.63 ERA this season in helping NMB to the Class 4A championship series. He struck out 102 and walked 13 in 55.2 innings pitched.

Roupe is the 17th commitment for the 2025 Gamecocks recruiting class. Only one commit, JL Mann’s Teddy Garner, has decommitted since Kingston’s firing.

The Gamecocks also got a commitment from Winthrop transfer pitcher Caleb Jones on Monday — the same day as the Kingston news.

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

Six Gamecocks have announced their intentions to enter the transfer portal, but none of those players were significant contributors to this year’s team.

USC is expected to host or meet with other transfers in the coming days. According to TheBigSpur’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.