USC Aiken head men’s basketball coach Vince Alexander is still working on his tall task of rebuilding after losing a majority of the most successful team in the school’s history. Keith Belfield and Dominic Early will be around to help in the rebuilding process.
The pair of guards will join the Pacers’ program after spending three seasons at Furman. Both players redshirted for a season and will have two years of eligibility with USCA. Coach Alexander said the experience factor can’t be understated with the incoming players after the Pacers lost 10 seniors from last season’s squad.
Belfield, a 6-foot-6 guard from Charlotte, North Carolina, saw action in 25 games for the Paladins last season, with eight starts. He played about 20 minutes per game and averaged 5.5 points. Early only saw action in 12 games last season, with one start. The guard from Atlanta averaged 4.4 points per game in limited action and shot 42 percent from the field.
“It’s very important to add some guys with that background. We want to continue what we’ve been doing around here. I think they can come in and make an impact for us early on and help us achieve our goals,” Alexander said Tuesday while preparing for a recruiting trip.
Belfield and Early will join a recruiting class which already features three incoming freshmen; Tyreece Brice from Rock Hill, Rashad Lewis from Valdosta, Georgia, and Newberry native Trey Miller.
Miller led Newberry to three straight Class AA state championship games, including a state title in 2014. The early additions to the recruiting class fit the Pacers’ tried-and-true formula of strong guard play.
The two transfers, Belfield and Early, can also be utilized in various positions on the floor, which is an added bonus in Alexander’s eyes.
“They’re both big guards we can use in multiple ways out on the floor. I really like their athleticism,” he said. “The can both put the ball on the floor and make things happen out there. I’m really excited to have them on board and get a chance to have them involved.”
Alexander credited the various area youth tournaments like the Peach State Summer Showcase, which the Convocation Center will host next week, with landing recruits like Belfield and Early. He remembered seeing them in AAU ball and never really forgot about the talented guards.
“They are an example of kids you get the benefit of seeing on the AAU circuit,” Alexander said. “When some of those guys go to Division I programs, you kind of keep them on your radar, and if they happen to leave, they may give us a call. By the grace of God, we were able to get some talented guys.”
While USCA’s rebuilding effort is taking shape, Alexander isn’t quite done yet. He plans to be done in about a week. He plans to have his class of about 10 to be finished in the coming week.
“We’re working on closing out on some bigs, and we hope to have the class wrapped up about this time next week,” Alexander said. “It’ll be a mix of kids from high school and three or four transfers.”
Eric Russell covers sports for the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @EricJ_Russell.