GREENVILLE, SC - Greenville, South Carolina hosted the women's SEC tournament and now they are hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament in the East Region. They are hosting what could be a dream come true for Brian Steele.
Steele is a former Gamecock player who graduated in 2016. He was one of the early building blocks as Frank Martin started to turn the men's basketball program around. Steele, a Greenville native, suffered to a series of knee injuries and wanted to start a coaching career. Martin was there for him.
"I met with Coach Martin and I just got done meeting with the team doctor and we kind of all decided that I was not going to be able to play anymore. Frank already had a plan for me and wanted me to be a student assistant," Steele said. He kind of right away pushed me in that direction."
Steele was an energetic, utility forward, during his playing career. No gaudy numbers at all but he always seemed to provide a spark and play hard minutes. Now as a member of the staff he's seeing how the team mantra has helped players like him and the stars propel the Gamecock program to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2004.
"Trust in us. Trust in us," Steel said. " Trust in us as a coaching staff and we'll trust in you. It's been kind of fun seeing everybody push each other and all that trust has culminated in a really cool thing for us."
USC can win their first NCAA game in Martin's five year tenure in Steele's hometown of Greenville on Friday night. A win for the Gamecocks over Marquette would have extra meaning for Steele.
"It's a moment we all kind of fought for so long and we put so much into it. It's going to be a lot of fun if we can make it happen and be able to celebrate with everyone that's closest to me. My family, my teammates, this coaching staff-it's going to be a lot of fun,"
No.7 South Carolina and No.10 Marquette are scheduled to tip-off at 9:50 pm ET tonight.
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