DESTIN, Fla. — It’s pretty much J.J. Frazier’s fault that South Carolina didn’t make the NCAA tournament. So Frank Martin should be very mad.
But Martin, South Carolina’s seemingly ever-ornery basketball coach, laughed and smiled when asked this week whether he’s mad Frazier has one more year of eligibility at Georgia.
“I love J.J. Frazier,” Martin said. “He’s my kind of guy. He’s competitive as competitive can be.”
For those who don’t remember (South Carolina fans, look away):
Frazier scored a team-high 16 points in Georgia’s win over South Carolina in Athens, another 19 in a victory at South Carolina in the final week of the regular season. And then there was the SEC quarterfinal.
In 24 seconds, Frazier ended (as it turned out) the Gamecocks’ tournament chances: First he drove through the defense to hit a pull-up jumper and tie the game with under 30 seconds left. Then he stripped South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell, who fouled Frazier trying to get the ball, sending Frazier to the free throw line, where he hit the game-winning free throw. That capped a 20-point performance.
Two nights later South Carolina, despite owning 23 wins, was left out of the NCAA tournament. Martin spent much of the SEC meetings talking with administrators and fellow coaches about what could have been done to help his team. But he hasn’t played the 5-foo-9 rising senior at Georgia.
“I hate playing against him,” Martin said. “But I love watching him play.”