|Carey Rich last played basketball for South Carolina in 1995, but the former point guard never really left the program. Rich was hired last April as the Special Assistant to Head Coach Lamont Paris.
“It feels great to be back home,” Rich said. “It’s always the dream for a lot of student-athletes to be able to go back to their university and operate in a capacity where you are an official part of the program or the team that you played for.
“I have my hands in a lot of different pots. One of the coaches called me ‘the problem solver’ and ‘the fixer.’ I can help develop a plan to tackle some of the issues we’ve had as a program. This helps us navigate the waters with the basketball community and allows us to get out in front of things and build relationships. I can also be an extra resource for our players, as a guy who understands their struggles and what it’s like to have a few bad days of practice in a row and you start to question yourself. I can help with that because I experienced it. With the players, there is a certain level of trust that they can share things with me. So, I can communicate with the coaching staff without compromising that trust with the players. I’m an extra resource for the coaches to give them my perspective.”
“I’ve really been a part of this program in some way since 1992, I’ve never really detached from it. ”
Rich grew up in Columbia and after playing his freshman year at Western Carolina, he transferred back to his hometown school where he played for three seasons from 1993 through 1995. He still ranks sixth all-time at South Carolina with 4.3 assists per game and was the team captain in both of his final two seasons. He also led the Gamecocks with 13.4 points per game as a senior.
“My best memories of playing here are the relationships with my teammates,” Rich said. “I built a great relationship with Coach Eddie Fogler. He was like a father to me.”
When his playing days were over, Rich spent a lot of time working with the local community. He spent the last seven years as recreation superintendent with the City of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation Department and also served as a liaison to the Columbia Police Department. He also has made a big impact on youth in the Midlands community while also being a huge advocate in trying to provide young local athletes opportunity and exposure for playing basketball after high school.
“The biggest part of my transition is my inability to get out in the community like I was before,” Rich said. “It wasn’t just a job. It was my life!”
While Rich had his finger on the pulse of the local basketball community, he was also well respected by previous Gamecock coaches.
“I’ve really been a part of this program in some way since 1992,” Rich said. “I’ve never really detached from it. I’ve had a relationship with every coach from that point forward. I know what the rumblings are with different AAU coaches and high school coaches, and now I get to bring that to this staff.”
Now that he’s back with the Gamecocks in an official capacity, Rich can’t wait to once again make impact for South Carolina basketball.