By Jeff Goodman
Darrin Horn will get Bruce Ellington back soon. For good.
The plan is for the two-sport star -- who is also a receiver on South Carolina's football team -- to miss one more basketball game, on Dec. 31.
He'll fly with the football team after the 28th to Orlando for the Jan. 2 matchup with Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. Then he'll return and almost certainly take his old spot in the starting lineup.
"He's getting better every game," Horn told CBSSports.com.
Ellington has played three games with the basketball team and is averaging 10.0 points per game. In his last outing, he went for 15 points in 25 minutes.
He's South Carolina's best player.
Listen, I'm not saying South Carolina will be an NCAA tournament team this season - or even taste the postseason of any kind. However, when Ellington returns to basketball form - and when freshman Damien Leonard starts making shots (and he will), the Gamecocks will be competitive in the SEC.
Will they battle Kentucky, Florida, Vandy, Mississippi State or Alabama in the standings? Probably not. But they could compete with all the lower-tier teams in the SEC this season - as long as Ellington gets back to what he was a year ago, when he was focused solely on basketball.
Horn is optimistic regarding his young frontline guys, sophomores R.J. Slawson and Damontre Harris, who have been solid thus far. Freshman Anthony Gill (8.6 ppg) has gotten off to a nice start.
"We're going to keep getting better," Horn. "We've got some pieces."
But it's difficult to win without your most talented piece.