Finally, a Final Four experience for Corchiani family

Tommy Corchiani, the son of former NC State star Chris Corchiani, is a freshman walkon for the Gamecocks who has had a front row seat to one of the most incredible NCAA runs on record and is having the time of his life in the process

Brett Friedlander—North State Journal photo
Tommy Corchiani

PHOENIX — If not for what NC State fans still consider one of the worst calls in NCAA tournament history during a region semifinal against Georgetown, Chris Corchiani might very well have played in a Final Four in 1989.Nearly three decades later, a Corchiani will finally fill the only real hole in the family’s otherwise sterling hoop resume when Chris’ son Tommy takes the floor with South Carolina in Saturday’s national semifinal against Gonzaga at University of Phoenix Stadium.Tommy is a freshman walkon for the Gamecocks who has seen action in only five games, without scoring, this season. But he’s had a front row seat to one of the most incredible NCAA runs on record and is having the time of his life in the process.”It’s been a lot of fun,” Corchiani said Thursday before his team’s public practice session. “I’m just grateful for the ride. It’s a journey I never expected to make. For this to happen, I can’t even put it into words. It’s just unreal.”Corchiani came to USC as a recruited walkon after a four-year varsity high school career at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh.It was a decision that broke with family tradition, given his father’s history at State and the fact that his older brother Chris Jr., is currently a walkon with the Wolfpack.But there’s family history with the Gamecocks, too, thanks to Chris Sr’s relationship with USC coach Frank Martin.The two have been friends since their formative years in Miami and it was Corchiani that, at least indirectly, helped steer Martin into coaching.”We were playing open gym in 1984 and it was at a time in my career where I had a chance to make the junior college team and had been playing the best ball I’d ever played,” Martin said. “I went to block one of his shots and as I landed, I tore my ACL.”So I tell him all the time, not only did he end my aspirations to play, but I’m also thankful because he started my coaching career. When he called and said that Tommy had applied at South Carolina, I said ‘okay, what do we need to do'” to get him on the team?Unlike his dad and older brother, the younger Corchiani is a shooting guard rather than a point guard. And he has aspirations of playing a greater role with the Gamecocks as his career progresses.For now, he’s more than happy to make his contribution to the team’s success at practice as part of USC’s scout team. He did, however, get a little prime time exposure during his team’s second round NCAA tournament win against Duke in Greenville, S.C.It happened during the second half when the net in front of the Gamecocks bench got tangled in the rim.”They asked one of my teammates to come out and untangle it, but he told me to go out there,” Tommy Corchiani said. “I didn’t really hear what the ref said at first, so I initially pulled the wrong thing. I ended up getting it. I’m just glad I didn’t ruin the day.”According to both Corchiani and his father, it’s almost impossible to ruin the day when you’re part of a Final Four.It’s an experience Chris said he’s enjoying both as a parent and a former player that never got to experience of playing on college basketball’s biggest stage.”Playing basketball and having individual records and statistics are wonderful,” said Corchiani, who finished his career as the all-time NCAA leader in assists. “But at the end of the day, I’d trade all that in to be on a team that went to the Final Four. The excitement and what they’re able to do is unbelievable.”