FLORENCE, S.C. – Trae Hannibal not only has the signed scholarship to play at the University of South Carolina, he has the 62-point game to end his career at Hartsville.
He could dunk. He could shoot. He could play defense and create transition baskets.
In short, he was an opponent’s headache.
But also, he’s the Morning News Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.
Hannibal, who led the Pee Dee with an average of 26.8 points per game, certainly gave Gamecock fans a glimpse of the UofSC program’s future despite Hartsville’s 97-92 loss against Wilson in the SCHSL Class 4A lower-state semifinals.
“It just shows that if I go out and give it my all every night, you never know what you’ll get,” Hannibal said. “Play the whole game like I’m supposed to, and that’s what I get out of it. I never expected it to be 62 points, but I just left it out on the court.
“To take that into college, that shows that I’m an outstanding player and that I play hard from start to finish,” he added. “Hopefully, everybody can see my mentality and my will to win.”
Hannibal would not say his 62 points is proof he can carry a team, however.
“I’d say that’s what a leader would do in that point of the game,” he said. “I just had to do what I had to do to try and get us a win. But going into college with that mindset, anybody would love to play with that type of player that I am. It’s just a blessing that a lot of people see me as a leader and stuff like that. So, playing like that every game makes me stand out.”
Hannibal’s rise began after his sophomore year.
“I just talked to my mom and uncle and told them what I wanted to do,” Hannibal said. “I spoke to my AAU coach, and it was broken down what I had to work on. In the 10th-grade summer, that’s when I started building a foundation, and I knew I had to work for everything I wanted.”
Hannibal went on to earn MVP honors in the 2017 Pepsi Carolina Classic. Then, Hannibal’s profile as an elite player only grew from there. And he also grew as a leader.
“I look at how far me and my teammates have come since the summer,” Hannibal said. “From last year to this year, the way I have grown in my maturity is big. The chemistry picked up on our team, and we just got better throughout the season.
“I feel like my three-level game got much better than it did from last season,” he added. “I wanted to get better as a player and student of the game, and I did.”