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Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Bracket reveal: Gildan Charleston Classic

By Myron Medcalf

Editor's note: It's time to reveal the fields for some of college basketball's biggest early season tournaments. Follow along as we break down the tournaments. All previews can be found here.

Tournament: Gildan Charleston Classic

When and where: Nov. 20-21 and 23 at the TD Arena in Charleston, South Carolina.

Teams involved: South Carolina, Cornell, Charlotte, Southern California, Akron, Drexel, Miami and Penn State.


Initial thoughts: Progress is the theme here. You don't have any stars in the Gildan Charleston Classic. Not one top-25 level squad. But it features some teams that might be sleepers for the NCAA tourney and could make major strides over last season.

Believe it or not, a Southern California squad that lost top scorer Byron Wesley and went 2-16 in the Pac-12 could win the whole thing. Andy Enfield's imprint on the program will be evident this season as top-100 recruits Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart come aboard. Plus, UNLV transfer Katin Reinhardt (10.1 points per game in 2012-13) will be eligible.

The Trojans could meet Penn State in the championship. Patrick Chambers' team has a chance to make a move in the Big Ten even without Tim Frazier. D.J. Newbill, Brandon Taylor and Ross Travis can help the Nittany Lions make a statement in South Carolina.

But don't ignore a few young stars who could change that. Sindarius Thornwell is a future first-round pick who could lead South Carolina to a title, too. Miami was ranked 93rd in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy. Star recruit Ja'Quan Newton, however, could be the go-to scorer Jim Larranaga needs to boost the Hurricanes' offense. They'll have a tough opening-round game against a Drexel team that will rely on Damion Lee, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

Why you'll want to watch: Because this tourney could matter more in March.

The 2014-15 campaign could be one of the best in a long time. Why? Because there's a high level of depth in multiple leagues.

A team like Southern Cal could disrupt the Pac-12 race. No, it won't win the league but the Trojans might be talented enough to orchestrate a major turnaround and compete for an at-large bid, which would be a dramatic shift from last season.

There's still a gap between Penn State and the top tier of the Big Ten. But last year's wins over Nebraska and Ohio State (twice) proved the Nittany Lions can't be overlooked.

Thornwell might be an All-SEC first-teamer. Newton could be one of the best freshmen in the ACC this season.

Like those two, Lee was a young star on the rise before last year's knee injury. Can he help Drexel make some noise in South Carolina?

This event will feature a few teams that should make strides. They can't afford any early slides.

That's why this Gildan Charleston Classic is worth watching.

This could be the event that propels USC from an afterthought a year ago to a respectable program in 2014-15. Penn State might surprise the Big Ten. A strong showing in South Carolina would provide some much-needed momentum.

South Carolina's Frank Martin and Larranaga watched their squads struggle last season, but things could change this year.

In March, we might look back and call this tournament the catalyst for whatever progress some of these squads could make in 2014-15.