South Carolina hires Lamont Paris to lead men’s basketball program

South Carolina will hire Chattanooga head coach Lamont Paris as his next head coach in men’s basketball, according to a report from ESPN writer Pete Thamel.

Paris met with Gamecocks officials on Sunday in Columbia and was offered the job officially on Monday afternoon. Other finalists included former Gamecocks great BJ McKiewho is an assistant at Wake Forest currently.

Paris is also a historic hire. He is the first African-American head coach in the history of the South Carolina men’s basketball program.

Paris was 87-70 in five seasons with the Mocs, culminating with a 27-7 record and a Southern Conference title (both regular season and tournament) this past season and a 54-53 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Illinois . Paris was 65-27 his last three years in Chattanooga.

Prior landing the Chattanooga job, Paris was an assistant under Bo Ryan and Greg Gard at Wisconsin from 2010-17 where he was the top recruiter on that staff. The Badgers made the Final Four and a National Championship game in 2013-14 and 2014-15. During his time at Wisconsin, the Badgers were 189-66 and made the Sweet 16 six times. When Gard replaced Ryan, Paris became the associate head coach and was instrumental in everything from game planning to recruiting.

Paris played at Wooster from 1992-96 and started his career there as an assistant. He then went to DePauw from 1999-2000, IUP from 2001-04 and Akron from 2005-10 before landing in Madison.

Contacts indicated that Paris’ plan for the Gamecocks program and his talent acquisition ability, including work in the transfer portal, landed him the job.

According to an interview with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review prior to the NCAA Tournament matchup, Paris talked about his days at IUP as the lead recruiter on the staff and mentioned that the roster, which reached the Division II Final Four, was made up of transfers, junior college players and players from “all walks of life” and that that style of recruiting was “appealing to him”. He also mentioned how his first two teams at Chattanooga were on the youthful side (a 22-43 overall record) and how he never wanted to have a roster situation like that again.

That bodes well for the Gamecocks if that is the case. South Carolina has a number of players who are eligible to return, but with instant eligibility from the NCAA Transfer Portal and a coaching change from Frank Martin to Paris, there is recruiting to be done. The Gamecocks also figure to be active in the portal themselves and from the high school ranks as they put together a roster for 2022-23.

One contact familiar with college basketball said “it’s a talent acquisition game and South Carolina hired one of the best in the country in that regard.”

Paris emerged as the leading candidate following former Arizona and Xavier coach Sean Miller turning down the job to return to Cincinnati and lead the Musketeers for a second stint. Murray State coach Matt McMahon was also in the mix for the job.

This is the first men’s basketball hire for South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner. Martin and the Gamecocks parted ways following Carolina being denied a bid to the NIT after an 18-13 season and a fifth place (tied) finish in the SEC.

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