The South Carolina State University Men's Basketball Team is celebrating its 50th year of playing at the top of the Southeastern Conference. Since 1960 the State University has won six national championships and has a long history of producing great players that have been signed by the NBA. Many basketball fans do not realize how much history and tradition SSC have built since they were students in the dorms. Many high school and college students dream of becoming basketball professionals but this dream can become a reality if they continue to grow as basketball players and develop a winning attitude.
The SSC Belles Basketball program has produced many fine young women basketball players. Among those that have become well-known NBA players or have gone on to star careers in sports other than basketball are Kaylar Johnson, Briana Shields, Kelley L Cox, Terance Mann, Deondre Johnson and Torry Clark. All of these ladies are former Belles students that have gone on to star at the Division I level. One of the great accomplishments of this team is that all five of its starters are seniors. This is an unusual situation in which a college basketball program is kept so fresh with young players but also given the experience and wisdom of seasoned pros.
A large mural located on the wall inside the locker room is the work of former basketball player and current South Carolina State University head coach Scottie Pippen. The large mural features a picture of Pippen as he was a student at the Belles while it is painted on the wall as part of the team's 50th anniversary celebration. A large holdall with the words, "50 years on the court" can be seen in the center of the woodall.
The history of the Belles goes back much farther than 50 years. The first year the team played a game was in 1955. This was the first year that Terry Wareham came to play for the Belles. He assisted on two goals as well as earning himself a varsity letter from the school. The rest of the team remained on the Spectrum as an expansion team into what we know now as the Gamecocks. The exciting history continues on in the following years with the addition of many great players.
The team has been to the Elite Eight once, reaching the Elite Eight in both the 1996 and 2021 tournaments. Two other members of the squad are considered to be among the best in the nation at their position. Those are Spencer Reed and Lamoriello. Both are all-conference players and on the squad that won at the recent NCAA tournament. This history is one that will be remembered by fans and the general basketball viewing public for a very long time.
Many fans have also enjoyed the ups and downs that the team has faced over the years. They've faced adversity, but always came back in a different way to try and get the job done. Every challenge that has presented itself has been overcome with great players and coaching. The story-schell that is the SSC Belles basketball program should go down as an example of how not to give up and when enough is enough. Each loss hurts, but it's important to keep fighting and remember what brought them together and why they're still playing in the National Association today.