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Paris Named SEC Coach of the Year ; Three Gamecocks Honored by SEC Coaches
Men's Basketball  . 

Paris Named SEC Coach of the Year ; Three Gamecocks Honored by SEC Coaches

South Carolina Athletics

Second-year head coach led the greatest single season turnaround in program history this season as team set regular season wins record with 25 victories

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Head coach Lamont Paris made history on Monday as he was named SEC Coach of the Year, the league office announced. He becomes the third coach in program history, joining Eddie Fogler (1997) and Dave Odom (2004), to be named SEC Coach of the Year by the league’s coaches. The Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1991-92.

Paris and his staff helped engineer the greatest single season turnaround in program history with the team’s 14-win improvement and a T-2nd finish in the SEC. South Carolina went 25-6 and 13-5 in league play this season. The 25 regular season wins are the most in program history. The 13th SEC wins are the second most in program history behind only the 1996-97 SEC Champion squad (went 15-1 to win first and only league crown in Gamecock history).

The Gamecocks won seven SEC games on the road this season, tying the 1996-97 team for the most SEC victories away from home in a single season. Carolina boast an impressive 11-3 record in true road and neutral site games this season. That’s the best mark in the SEC and T-2nd best mark in the nation amongst the Power Six with No. 2/2 UCONN and No. 1/1 Houston. No. 3/3 Purdue has the best record in true road/neutral site games at 12-3.

South Carolina was 3-3 against AP Top-25 opponents this season. The Gamecocks are one of 18 teams in the country with multiple top-10 wins and one of five teams in the nation with a top-five true road win. Carolina beat No. 6/6 Kentucky 79-62 at home on Jan. 23 and No. 5/5 Tennessee, 63-59, in Knoxville on Jan. 30. Per Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time the Gamecocks had defeated a pair of top-10 teams in a three-game stretch since 1968. Carolina’s win over the Vols was the team’s first AP Top-Five road victory since defeating No. 3 Kentucky, 72-66, on March 2, 1997.

The top-25 wins were a part of a seven-game SEC win streak for the Gamecocks this season, the longest win streak for the team in league play since the 1996-97 squad started SEC action 11-0. South Carolina had the best scoring defense in the SEC this season, allowing just 66.4 points per game. The team held 24 opponents below 70 points this season which led the SEC and T-5th nationally. The Gamecocks held 13 SEC opponents below 70 points which also led the league.

The Gamecocks returned to the top-25 for the first time since 2017 back in Week 14 on Feb. 5. Carolina, who is ranked No. 15/16 this week, has remained there the past six weeks and will likely the regular season ranked in the AP Top-25 Poll for the first time since being ranked No. 14 in the final AP Poll of 1998. The Gamecocks have been ranked as high as No. 11 in both major polls this season, the highest top-25 mark for the program since being slotted 11th in Week 7 (Dec. 29) of the 1997-98 season.

In addition to coach Paris’ prestigious honor, graduate guard Ta’Lon Cooper and junior guard Meechie Johnson were named Second Team All-SEC. Standout first-year forward Collin Murray-Boyles was also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

The last time the Gamecocks had multiple players earn All-SEC honors in the same season was Devan Downey (Coaches and AP First Team), Dominique Archie (Coaches Second Team, AP Honorable Mention) and Zam Fredrick (Coaches Second Team) in 2009. Murray-Boyles is the third straight Gamecock to be named to the all-freshman team (Gregory “GG” Jackson II in 2023 and Devin Carter in 2022). He’s the 14th player in program history to be named to the all-rookie squad. Cooper and Johnson are the 30th and 31st All-SEC honorees in program history.

Cooper averaged 9.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists (team high and fifth in the SEC), starting all 31 games this season. He matched a career-high with 20 points in the team’s victory against No. 6/6 Kentucky. The Roebuck, S.C., native had 18 points in the team’s road win at No. 5/5 Tennessee. His 3.53-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is seventh in the nation and second in the SEC. Cooper has had 19 games this season with one or zero turnovers. He’s had a team-high 13 games with five or more assists. Cooper has knocked down a career-best 51 triples this season and his 45.1 percent 3-point field goal percentage leads the team. The team is 8-1 in games when Cooper makes three or more 3s this season. The Gamecocks are 15-1 in games when he scores 10 or more points this season.

Johnson averaged 14.4 points (team and career high), 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He was 143-of-355 from the floor, good for a career-best 40.3 field goal percentage. His 55 made 3s led the Gamecocks. Johnson had 20 or more points in nine games which led the team and was a career high mark. He won SEC Player of the Week honors twice and was also named the Lute Olson National Player of the Week (first Gamecock since Sindarius Thornwell in 2017). He had 24 points in the SEC opener against Mississippi State on Jan. 6. Johnson also had 22 points in a road win at Texas A&M (Feb. 28) and 25 points (21 in the second half) in a victory over No. 24/24 Florida (March 2). Against the Gators, Johnson went 10-of-15 from the floor and his 10 made field goals were a new career high. He scored in double-figures a team-high 21 times this season.

Murray-Boyles missed six games to start the season but he returned in December and found his form in the middle of SEC play. He averaged 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds (team high), 1.8 assists and 1.0 steals per game in 25 games played (16 starts). In SEC play, Murray-Boyles averaged 11.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. He won SEC Freshman of the Week honors after scoring 31 points in a double-digit win over Vanderbilt (Feb. 10). He went 14-of-17 (82.4 percent) from the floor. He became the first SEC freshman since Bobby Portis of Arkansas in 2014 to record 30 or more points with 13 or more made field goals while shooting above 80 percent. He’s the third Gamecock freshman to record a 30-point game since Carolina joined the SEC (Gregory “GG” Jackson II in 2023 and Bruce Ellington in 2010 the others). He also became just the third Gamecock the last 25 seasons to record 30 points on 80 percent or better shooting in an SEC game. Over his last 10 outings, Murray-Boyles has averaged 16.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 69.8 percent (67-of-96) from the floor and 83.9 percent (26-of-31) at the free throw line. His 61.7 field goal percentage (103-of-167) leads the team.

2023-24 SEC Men’s Basketball Awards

Coach of the Year: Lamont Paris, South Carolina

Player of the Year: Dalton Knecht, Tennessee

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Sean East II, Missouri

Freshman of the Year: Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

Sixth-Man of the Year: Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Defensive Player of the Year: Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee

First Team

Mark Sears, Alabama

Johni Broome, Auburn

Zyon Pullin, Florida

Antonio Reeves, Kentucky

Tolu Smith III, Mississippi State

Dalton Knecht, Tennessee

Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee

Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M

Second Team

Jaylin Williams, Auburn

Walter Clayton Jr., Florida

Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

Matthew Murrell, Ole Miss

Josh Hubbard, Mississippi State

Ta’Lon Cooper, South Carolina

Meechie Johnson, South Carolina

Jonas Aidoo, Tennessee

All-Defensive Team

Johni Broome, Auburn

Cameron Matthews, Mississippi State

Jonas Aidoo, Tennessee

Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee

Andersson Garcia, Texas A&M 

All-Freshman Team

Aden Holloway, Auburn

Alex Condon, Florida

Silas Demary Jr., Georgia

Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

D.J. Wagner, Kentucky

Josh Hubbard, Mississippi State

Collin Murray-Boyles, South Carolina