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Feb. 20, 2007

Former Gamecock great Danny Traylor was in Columbia last Saturday for USC’s 81-64 win over the Gamecocks. Prior to the game, he stopped on the court for a quick photo opp with Brandon Wallace and visited with media before settling in his seat for the game. Traylor was saluted in the first half on the court with a presentation made by Gamecock athletics director Eric Hyman and then signed autographs on the concourse during halftime.

Traylor, who is still the career blocks shot record holder with 235 (1971-73), is in jeopardy of losing that record soon as senior Brandon Wallace is just four blocks behind Traylor with 231 career blocks.

Traylor visited with the media prior to the game and here are a few of his comments. Following Traylor’s comments are a few from Wallace on meeting Traylor as well.

“When I came to South Carolina, the basketball program had not done all that well. When I had been recruited, he (Frank McGuire) had Wilt Chamberlain call me at home one night, and that was a guy that I idolized. I didn’t believe it at first. I thought it was one of my friends playing a trick on me.”

Do you follow USC athletics?

“Yes. There’s room enough for all kinds of sports. The baseball team is fantastic. I watch them all. I’m a Gamecock. I love this school. I love the people here. I love anyone who competes for this school because they’re trying to advance the school in some sort of way, and I respect that.”

Any big game stand-outs for you when you played at USC?

“I can remember blocking one guy’s shot from Michigan State, and I think all of you have seen the commercial where the guys says `I’m the bus driver, and I’m gonna take you to school.’ I had a block like that in the game, got the guy and came down and smashed him in the head. I ran into the stands at the old coliseum, and I said, `That feels good.'”

What makes a good shot-blocker?

“Timing. It absolutely is timing. I always felt like I would act like I didn’t see a guy or maybe stand behind a guy then move up.”

What would Coach McGuire say if he was watching this team right now?

“He would probably say, `Danny I need you to get your uniform and go play with the team.’ Tre’ Kelley’s having an outstanding season, playing with such guts. It’s just amazing. They need a little more beef up front. They miss Renaldo Balkman, of course. I see what’s coming in next year, and I think that’s going to be dangerous. You’re going to have a lot of big guys up front that can play.”

What do you think about Brandon Wallace’s game and shot blocking?

“He knows what he’s doing, and I’m sure he would say the same thing. His timing is good, and he’s got great talent. He can get up and go to the moon. I think when his day comes to coach, he’s going to be able to teach some little kids how to block a shot.”

He will probably break the record in four years. You played three seasons. Should we put an asterisk next to his record (Wallace’s)?

“I was afraid someone would ask that. I’m not going to go there (he said with a smile). It’s possible that his competition might have been a little bit tougher. We had left the ACC and the teams we had to play, we just had to find anyone to play us. Give him credit. He’s probably played a little bit tougher competition overall.”

All three years you made it to the Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament. What was your biggest thrill as a Gamecock?

“When I look back now that was an accomplishment that unfortunately no one else has been able to do. That was great, but I think that any Gamecock basketball player would tell you that unless we won the national championship and beat everybody by 50 points, we failed. We all probably walked away from here saying I wish we could have done better. Even with three straight Sweet 16s, that wasn’t good enough.”

Were you disappointed when they got out of the ACC?

“To a certain degree. Growing up in North Carolina, I got to see some things that I never would have before and got to see some different kinds of basketball.”

Media spoke to Brandon Wallace on meeting Danny Traylor after the game and Wallace had this to say:

“It was an honor to meet him. He just told me to go for the record and that he had the record for a long time, but that he wouldn’t mind me getting it.”

(on having four blocks against UT with Traylor in the stands):

“I didn’t even realize it when I made the blocks in front of him, but after the game it made me feel really good to be able to do that when he was here. It was great to have him come in our lockerroom after won too. He and Carlos Powell made the win feel more special.”

Is this something you set out to do from the beginning of your career – break Traylor’s record?

“I didn’t think about the record until the beginning of the season, it didn’t even cross my mind that I could reach it.”