Sept. 29, 2017
By Brad Muller | More Features
With his mother serving in the United States Air Force, South Carolina junior guard Hassani Gravett moved around quite a bit as a child and spent some time living overseas. Now things have come full circle for Gravett, as he had the opportunity to represent his country this summer as a member of the USA East Coast Team which played in Madrid, Spain, under the direction of head coach Larry Brown.
“When they gave us the uniform, I was so happy because they gave me the same number that I wear here at South Carolina,” Gravett said. “I put that jersey on and looked in the mirror. Seeing USA across my chest and just being able to represent our country was great.
“I’m happy that my mom serves our country. She goes to so many places to fight for our country. There are times when I haven’t been able to see her for a couple of years. With me going over to represent our country, it made me think about some of the things she did.”
“I was extremely happy that Hassani got the opportunity to travel with Guy Rancourt and USA East Coast Basketball in their travels to Europe,” said South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. “Outside of the experience of being around other players, and traveling to a foreign land, playing in a structured, competitive environment is another step in Hassani’s growth as a player. And on top of everything, getting coached by one of the great coaches in my lifetime, Larry Brown, should be an unbelievable growing moment for Hassani as he prepares to embrace more responsibility in our program. Being around Larry Brown, who is notorious on developing point guards, should benefit not just Hassani, but our basketball team."
Gravett was born in Alabama, but spent much of his time growing up in Atlanta. With his parents separated, he has spent time living with his mother, Aniya Lamyotte, and his father, Chris.
“I’ve lived in Italy, Washington state, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida,” Gravett said. “I used to go to Germany for the whole summer sometimes, too. It was tough making new friends all the time, but I’m thankful for the experiences I had.
“Overseas is a different style of living, even with simple things such as plugging things into the wall, the currency, food, and the different cultures. I lived in Italy for two different years, when I was six, and again when I was eight years old. There wasn’t a lot of crime where I lived in Italy, so my mom would give me Euros, and I’d just ride my bike downtown and get some food by myself when she would go to work. I became really independent.”
Last year there were times I lacked in confidence at times. I think that trip really helped me with my confidence a lot.
Learning responsibility at a young age has served him well.
“Getting to know new people isn’t that hard for me, and it’s not that hard to re-adjust to a new place,” Gravett said.
Fast-forward to his collegiate basketball career, and Gravett continues to adapt to new environments. Gravett adjusted to playing for head coach Frank Martin after transferring from Pensacola State Junior College and helping the Gamecocks reach their first ever NCAA Final Four last year. Then he had the chance to adapt to yet another coaching style while playing under former college and NBA coach Larry Brown with USA East Coast.
“When I found out I was going to be able to go to Madrid, I was very excited,” Gravett said. “I got the chance to play for the legendary Larry Brown. We did a lot of stuff to really get to know each other. We did a lot of NBA footwork drills. The plays that he had were good. They were simple, but effective.
“I wasn’t nervous at all. I was just looking forward to going to a place I had never been before. I’ve been to a lot of different places, but I hadn’t been to Madrid.”
While in Spain, Gravett enjoyed more opportunities to learn, on and off the court.
“I don’t really speak Spanish, so it was a little tough,” Gravett laughed. “I like trying different things to eat. I had bull’s tail. I had something that had squid ink in it. I enjoyed hanging out with different guys from different schools. People from different places have different styles of play. So I picked up some things from them, and of course what [Larry Brown] taught us.”
Gravett noted that his experience playing with USA East Coast will help him as he continues to mature with the Gamecocks.
“This year I’m looking to play more point guard here, and with the USA East Coast team, Coach Brown had me running point,” Gravett said. “That helped me. I know I’ll have to take on more of a leadership role here and step up since we lost Sin [Sindarius Thornwell], P.J. [Dozier], Duane [Notice], and Justin [McKie] from last year’s team.
“Last year there were times I lacked in confidence at times. I think that trip really helped me with my confidence a lot. A lot of those guys looked at me as a leader on the team, and I think I played really well. That was a big confidence boost for me. Having that USA on my chest just felt really good. It never gets old.”
Gravett noted that he talks to his mom almost every day, and he plans on taking Italian while he’s in school at some point because he plans on visiting again in the future. For now, he’s taking what he already knows to help the Gamecocks succeed again this season.
“I’m looking forward to see how the freshmen adjust,” Gravett said. “If they trust the process, we’ll go far again, but we’ll need everyone on board. They’ll all have to adjust.”
That’s a young man who speaks from experience.
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