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Dec. 9, 2004

COLUMBIA, SC – As he walked by the Colonial Center press room, you couldn’t wipe the smile off Carlos Powell’s face today if you tried. He just finished his last final and is ready for gradation. On Monday, South Carolina seniors Carlos Powell and John Chappell will realize a live long dream – they will both graduate from college. They are both finishing their degrees in three and a half years.

“We have had three players graduate in three and a half years the past two years (Chappell, Powell and Mike Boynton, Jr. last year). I hope this is a regular press conference we have every time around this year,” said USC Head Coach Dave Odom with a smile on his face. “As far as the two guys this year, they came in at opposite points but ended up with the same results. With a fair amount of summer school, they have graduated in three and a half years. Winning and losing – we will never get away from that and we should not – regardless of the sport. It’s why you play the game. But just as important is the development of these young people. I can’t imagine three finer young men in Mike, Carlos and John. To graduate that quickly, tt’s amazing.

“We are so proud of each of them,” said Odom. “There are so many people to thank for helping them along the way. The professors deserve a world of credit and while I wish I could name each one, they know who they are.

“It’s really been interesting to watch them bond as friends as well,” added Odom. “Carlos is called `Los’ by his friends and John is called ‘Chap’ by his friends and Carlos leads the charge on that nickname. They will be friends the rest of their lives and I am really proud of them.”

USC’s graduation, at 3:30 pm on Monday, Dec. 13, will be held most appropriately in the Colonial Center. U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham will act as the commencement speaker.

Chappell, a 6′ 10 center from New Berlin, Wisc., will graduate with three degrees and a minor. His degrees are in: International Business (USC’s program is ranked No. 2 in the country), Marketing and Finance. He has a minor in Spanish. Chappell carried a 3.6 grade point average into his senior year.

Powell, a 6′ 7 forward from Florence, S.C. and USC’s leading scorer and rebounder this year, will receive his degree in Sociology. Powell is the first college graduate in his family and he expect ‘triple digits’ to be in attendance on Monday afternoon – including family from South Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania.

Both will begin pursuing another degree during the second semester.

They talked about the long road to graduation today:

John Chappell

Question: Talk about your three degrees:

JC: It was tough. The business school is no joke. It’s a tough school and to do that while playing basketball was tough. There was a lot of time management involved as far as planning ahead. I am not the most organized person in the world, but I try to stay a step ahead in the classroom so if something with basketball came up, I could handle it.

I came in with a few college credits and I have been going to summer school every summer.

I have a couple ideas of what I want to do when I am done here but I don’t have the slightest clue of what exactly I will do when I finish next semester. I would like to get a job more than go to grad school. I wouldn’t mind coming back here for grad school but I am from out of state and right now I can’t afford it!

I have been under a lot of pressure with a tough load, so although my schedule won’t be as serious next semester, I have a wide variety of classes: bowling, golf, equestrian, Beginning Acting, Intro. To Modern Dance and Advanced Spanish. I am looking forward to each class. I need to work on my Spanish so that’s why I am taking Spanish and not karate.

All three majors were pretty tough but Finance was probably the most challenging. All the formulas and equations, it made it a bit tougher.

Question: What have your parents said?

JC: I talked to my mom last night. She said she just couldn’t believe I was graduating. I thought she was crying on the phone, but she assured me she wasn’t. She said she felt really old now. I know they are really proud of me and I am happy to graduate. It’s a service to my parents because they are the ones who instilled these values in me.

Question: Will your younger brother try to top you and get four degrees? Do you ever play each other (Jeff, plays at Wisconsin)? Do you play your Dad?

JC: My brother has no chance of getting four degrees. Being older I tried to maintain my dominance as long as I could over my younger brother. Early on I had quite a lead on the series record, using my size and strength to my advantage. I don’t know who would win now. It would be a definite battle, but I would say he’s probably caught up to me now.

As I got older my Dad wasn’t in quite the physical condition of his professional days (Len Chappell), but there were some battles. They got closer and closer as I got older and then I beat him one day. After that, he never played me again.

Next, Carlos Powell talked about getting his degree.

Question: Are you coming back from your last final?

CP: Yes, I just took my last final. I am finally finished. It seems like I just started though. I know my family is proud.

Question: When you first arrived as a freshman, Dave Odom speculated that you didn’t really think about graduation. Is that true?

CP: Some people just come to college to play basketball. I wanted to stay eligible to play basketball. It hit me my senior year that I was about to graduate and still had some basketball left. My mom always talks to me about going to school and getting your education first and then playing basketball.

It’s a tough balance because you get out of practice late each day, but you have to study. Some nights I am up until 1 or 2 in the morning.

Question: What classes are you taking next semester?

CP: I have some of the same classes as Chap, but not Advanced Spanish. I am taking golf and bowling with him. I have three other classes, too.

Question: How did you finish in three and a half years?

CP: It was tough. I never went home. I had no summers. I took a lot of classes in summer school. I stayed ahead because I went to summer school and didn’t do bad in classes. I studied.

Question: What does it mean to your family for you to graduate?

CP: I am the first person in my family period to graduate. I don’t know how many people are coming on Monday. Probably triple digits but I won’t be doing much afterwards. We have a game the next day.