Hassani Gravett’s road to March Madness had a few twist alone the way.
But there is no doubt he is enjoying the moment of playing in the NCAA Div. 1 basketball tournament.
The former Alexander High standout is a reserve guard for the South Carolina Gamecocks, who will take on Marquette this afternoon in the first round of the tournament.
South Carolina drew a No. 7 seed in the tournament and plays close to home in Greenville, S.C., in the Central Regional.
“First off this is a wonderful opportunity,” Gravett said earlier this week via phone. “It is an opportunity that many people only dream about playing in. Greenville is not too far from us so all our fans and supporters can be there.”
Gravett isn’t the only former player from the county to be playing in the NCAA Tournament. Former Douglas County High standout Brandon Robinson is a freshman reserve for top-seed North Carolina, which will play Texas Southern today in South Carolina.
On the women’s side, Douglasville native Asia Durr will lead Louisville against Chattanooga at home on Saturday afternoon.
This is Graeitt’s first season at the SEC school. Last season, he starred at Pensacola State College in Florida. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists to be named Panhandle Conference Player of the Year honors.
In his first season at South Carolina, he is averaging 3.6 points in 18.1 minutes of action. He has played all 30 of the team’s games while making three starts.
He said getting adjusted to competition in the SEC has been tough.
“Obviously everybody in this league is better and the speed of the game is faster,” he said. “Everybody good on your team and the other teams. You have to bring it everyday in practice and most definitely in the games. You have to adjust to the speed.”
He said playing junior college last season definitely helped as opposed to coming in as a true freshman.
“My coach talked to ma a lot about playing on this level,” he said. “I think playing junior college ball helped me mature as a person. I can definitely see a different in myself. You just have to get a lot stronger if you want to compete.”
Coming out of Alexander, Gravett garnered a lot of accolades as he led the Cougars into the semifinals. He was named the Douglas County Sentinel Player of the Year in addition to garnering Class AAAA top honors.
Gravitt signed with Louisiana-Lafayette, but later transferred to Pensacola State College.
He said during the offseason he will work on becoming stronger.
“You have to lift a lot,” Gravett said. “I think I did well but I know there is a lot more that I can do. It is just a matter of getting stronger and bigger in the offseason.”