FLORENCE, S.C. – Dariyan Pendergrass had been in contact with the University of South Carolina for a while.
“They were talking to me, and they said if I keep (my play) up, they were going to have more interest and an offer,” the Hartsville High standout said. “I showed them what they wanted at the (Diamond Prospects) Palmetto Games.”
Pendergrass did his part at the all-star showcase by earning the Jeff Young Heavy Hitter award as the top hitter at the event.
And on Tuesday night, the Gamecocks kept their end of the bargain with an offer – which Pendergrass immediately accepted by verbally committing to USC.
“I think I picked the right school,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to get (an education) and I think it’s a great baseball program and a successful school.”
Pendergrass had always thought about going to either Carolina or Clemson, he said, and also briefly heard from defending NCAA champion Vanderbilt during the season.
But it was the Gamecocks who were there basically from the beginning and the first ones to offer.
“I wanted to get it done early and just concentrate on playing baseball,” Pendergrass said.
The rising Red Fox junior also plays slot receiver on the football team and point guard/shooting guard for the basketball team, but those sports were simply more about having fun while he wasn’t playing baseball, Pendergrass said.
Because it’s baseball where he shines the brightest. Pendergrass hit .457 for the Red Foxes last season and stole 45 bases to not only earn team MVP, but to garner All-State honors and the Region 6-4A Player of the Year award.
He played left field this past season, but will take over as the starting center fielder this year, he said.
"He's a stellar defensive outfielder with his speed," Hartsville High coach Tony Gainey said. "He's a playmaker."
Pendergrass followed his high school season with an equally impressive stint in American Legion ball. He led Florence Post 1 by hitting over .400 and also swiped 24 bags – the second-most ever in a single season in program history.
Post 1 coach Derick Urquhart was recently named as one of the new inductees to the USC Athletics Hall of Fame, but Pendergrass’ Legion coach didn’t influence his decision either way, he said.
“I know he went to USC and he told me it was a good experience, but I just took it up from there,” Pendergrass said.