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Lamont Paris

Lamont Paris

Lamont Paris, who has been a part of nine NCAA Division I Tournaments and 17 20-win seasons as a college head and assistant coach, was named the University of South Carolina’s 33rd head coach by Director of Athletics Ray Tanner on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Paris, 47, is the first African-American head coach in the history of the Gamecock men’s basketball program.

He enters his second season leading the program in 2023-24.

In his first season (2022-23), South Carolina had an overhauled roster with eight new players, including just 14.9 percent of the team’s scoring and 18.4 percent of the minutes played returning from the season prior. The Gamecocks defeated Clemson at home, 60-58, for the first time since Dec. 19, 2014. Chico Carter Jr. hit the game-winning bucket with 0.9 seconds remaining. Paris became the first Gamecock head coach since Dave Odom in 2001 to defeat the in-state Tigers in his first season. The conference slate was highlighted by road wins at Kentucky, at Ole Miss and at LSU. The Gamecocks wire-to-wire victory at Rupp Arena on Jan. 10 was the team’s first there since 2009 and just the program’s third all-time win in Lexington since joining the SEC (1992). Ohio State transfer Meechie Johnson made six 3s and scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Gamecocks. Paris joined Eddie Fogler (1997) and Darrin Horn (2009) as the only Gamecock head coaches all-time to win in the historic building. Carolina nearly knocked off SEC Champion and No. 2/2 Alabama at home but fell in overtime, 78-76, thanks to a late bucket from SEC Player of the Year Brandon Miller.

Several players had their most productive seasons to date under Paris and his staff in year one in Columbia. Sophomore Jacobi Wright averaged 7.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He had a career-best six games in double figures in SEC play. Josh Gray led the team in rebounding, averaging 6.3 per game and 7.9 rebounds per contest in league action. He had a career-best eight games with 10 or more rebounds, seven of which came in SEC action. Gray also had the best game of his career with 20 points and 14 rebounds vs. Arkansas. Johnson averaged 12.7 points (second on team) and 3.6 assists per contest (eighth in the SEC). He led the team with 70 makes from behind the arc and was one of just eight players in the SEC to make 70 or more 3s.

The staff made early in-roads recruiting over the summer in 2022 with local product Gregory “GG” Jackson II reclassifying and enrolling early. The consensus top player in the 2023 class, Jackson was the highest rated signee in program history (recruit rankings started in early 2000s) and joined PJ Dozier (2015-17) as the only five-star Gamecock freshmen. Jackson would go on to earn All-SEC Freshman honors while leading the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game. He had 11 20-point games, the most by a Carolina freshman since joining the SEC in 1991-92. Jackson would go on to be selected 45th overall by the Memphis Grizzles in the 2023 NBA Draft. He became the first NBA Draft pick for the program since All-American Sindarius Thornwell in 2017.

Paris came to Carolina after five seasons as the head coach at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, coaching the Mocs to an 87-72 overall record (.547), including a 65-29 mark the last three seasons.

In 2021-22, he led the Mocs to their first Southern Conference title and NCAA berth since 2016. Chattanooga finished the season with a 27-8 mark. He is one of 20 finalists for the Hugh Durham Award, given by CollegeInsider.com to the top Division I mid-major coach in college basketball.

The Mocs’ NCAA NET ranking improved in each of his seasons at Chattanooga, finishing with a 63 ranking this season.

In his 17 seasons as a collegiate assistant coach, teams associated with Paris were 497-217 (.696) with five conference titles and 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching two Final Fours.

“Lamont Paris is the right choice to lead our men’s basketball program,” said Tanner. “When we began this search, I said we wanted to hire someone with a winning coaching history, who has the energy, passion and commitment to excellence in all areas of the student-athlete experience. Coach Paris checks all of those boxes.

“Lamont’s success on the court speaks for itself,” continued Tanner. “He has recruited and developed talent at the highest level, helping Wisconsin reach the Final Four on two occasions, and has taken his experiences under some of the nation’s top coaches to build his own winning program at Chattanooga. Off the court, he is first-class person who will embrace our community and the Gamecock Family. We believe he is one of the bright young coaches in the profession and we are thrilled to have him lead our men’s basketball program.”

The Mocs won the 2021-22 Southern Conference regular season title with a 14-4 record, and as the #1 seed in the SoCon Tournament, won the championship game with a thrilling 64-63 overtime win. Chattanooga’s Malachi Smith was the Tournament Most Outstanding Player with teammate David Jean-Baptiste joining him on the first team.

In a vote of the league’s coaches, Paris was named the SoCon Coach of the Year and Smith was the regular-season SoCon Player of the Year. Jean-Baptiste was also named to the Second Team all-conference squad.

“I am excited to be named the head coach at South Carolina,” said Paris. “The opportunity to build on what this program has achieved recently is exciting. While I am the head coach, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the many head and assistant coaches and student-athletes that I have worked with. I want Gamecock fans to know that we will have a program that you will be proud of and one that will compete for championships.”

Following the 2020-21 season, Paris was one of 25 coaches nominated for the Collegeinsider.com Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award, awarded annually to the NCAA Division I men’s basketball coach who also exhibits a strong moral character off the court. He was also one of 25 coaches nominated for the Ben Jobe Award, presented annually by Collegeinsider.com to the nation’s most outstanding minority men’s basketball coach in Division I.

Paris came to Chattanooga after seven seasons as an assistant coach at Wisconsin (2010-17). The Badgers averaged 27 wins per year during his tenure. Wisconsin won a school-record 36 games in 2014-15 finishing as the national runner-up a year after reaching the Final Four in 2014 and also reached four NCAA Sweet 16s.

Paris developed a reputation as a recruiter and developer of talent as an assistant coach. At Wisconsin, serving under head coaches Bo Ryan and Greg Gard, he was credited with keying efforts with All-American and current Phoenix Sun Frank Kaminsky, 2015 first-round NBA Draft selection Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes, who is playing with FC Barcelona in the Liga ACB EuroLeague.

Prior to joining the Wisconsin staff, he was an assistant coach at Akron for five seasons (2005-10) under head coach Keith Drambrot. Paris was on the Zips staff in 2005-06 season when the squad achieved its first 20-win season since 1974-75, going 23-10. Akron won 20-or-more games in each of Paris’ years on the staff. The Zips were 2009 Mid-American Conference Champions and earned NIT bids in 2006 and 2008 and went to the CBI in 2010.

Paris also served as an assistant coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2001-04), DePauw (1998-2000) and his alma mater, College of Wooster (1997-98).

Paris is a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the Black Coaches Association. He was one of the five men’s assistant coaches selected to participate in the BCA’s “Achieving Coaching Excellence” program in 2007.

Additionally, in 2007, he was inducted into the Kaleidescope Magazine’s Forty-Forty Club, a list consisting of Cleveland, Ohio’s top 40 African-Americans age 40 and under who have made a difference in the community.

A native of Findlay, Ohio, Paris earned a bachelor’s degree in business economics from Wooster in 1996 and a master’s degree in recreation and sports management from Indiana State in 2000. Paris played four seasons for Wooster and was named the team’s MVP and captain his senior season.

He was the team MVP and captain as a junior and senior at Wooster earning All-North Coast Athletic Conference honors both years. He helped the Scots to three trips to the NCAA Division III Tournament along with a couple of NCAC Championships.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

  • Under Paris, Chattanooga’s RPI/NET improved each season from 2018-2022. No SEC program achieved this during the same timeframe.
  • Chattanooga’s KenPom.com offensive efficiency ranking of 69 in 2022 would be higher than any South Carolina team since 2006 (14).
  • Chattanooga’s KenPom.com single-season improvement of 87 spots from 2021 (156) to this season (69) would be second best among SEC teams in any year since 2018, trailing only Texas A&M’s 89 spot improvement (137 in 2021 to 48 in 2022).
  • Paris was a part of the Wisconsin coaching staff that made seven straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Included in that stretch was a National Championship Game appearance (2015), Final Four (2014) and four Sweet 16s (2011-12, 2016-17).
  • During his 22 seasons as a head or assistant coach, Paris has been a part of 17 teams that have won 20-or-more games in a season (7x Wisconsin, 5x Akron, 2x Chattanooga, 2x IUP, 1x Wooster).

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT LAMONT PARIS

“Coach Paris is everything you could want as a coach. There is no box that he doesn’t check. From film study, to practices, to gametime, his love for the game and attention to detail is second to none. But above all that, what separates Coach Paris, is the person he is. The relationships he built with his players is truly unique. He communicates with respect, will actively listen to every person in the room, and knows the best ways to help his players reach their full potential. When he says he’s a call or text away, he truly means that; to this day he’s never backed from that promise. I hope every young basketball player has a chance to be coached by someone like Coach Paris. South Carolina’s got a good one.”

—Sam Dekker, Wisconsin Forward & 3-Time All-Big Ten Selection (2012-15)

“Lamont was an integral part of us turning the program around at Akron. He was – and is – terrific with the players, is a tremendous recruiter and has an outstanding mind for the game. He has paid his dues and is more than ready to seize the opportunity before him at South Carolina.”

—Keith Dambrot, Duquesne Head Coach

“The University of South Carolina has made a terrific hire with Lamont Paris. He’s a phenomenal teacher of the game, excellent evaluator and recruiter of talent, and most importantly, a first-class person. Lamont has been instrumental to the success of every program he’s been a part of in his career and was an outstanding coach to work with and have on my first staff here at Wisconsin. The coaching in the SEC just got even better with Lamont’s arrival in Columbia and I sense exciting times are on the horizon for his Gamecock basketball program.”

—Greg Gard, Wisconsin Head Coach

“I am thrilled that Lamont has this outstanding opportunity at South Carolina. I know he will do an outstanding job. All of us at Wooster are very proud of Lamont.”

—Steve Moore, Retired Wooster Head Coach

“We are so proud of what Lamont has accomplished thus far in his career. We are excited to see the impact he will have on South Carolina’s basketball program. Lamont is a winner on and off the court.”

—Doug Cline, Current Wooster Head Coach & Lamont’s College Teammate

When I think about Lamont Paris, I think about the reasons I first hired him at Wisconsin. He stands for all the good things in college athletics. He’s got an old school bedrock with creative and new school energy and ability. He paid his own way to play at a D3 school. He knew he was doing it for love of the game and he’s translated that mindset to his coaching style as well. His purpose as a coach is to help young men understand not just here and now, but also what comes after basketball. He is able to relate with all types of people. His work ethic in drills, film work, scouting reports is so thorough that I never had to critique his work. I could just turn him loose. His ears and eyes were always open and will continue to be open. South Carolina is getting a good one.

—Bo Ryan, Retired Wisconsin Head Coach

“We congratulate Lamont on this move. He built our program into a consistent winner again after starting from scratch following the graduation of the last great Mocs teams. We worked side-by-side over that time, and I developed a great deal of respect for how he handled his program on and off the court. He will be missed in Chattanooga, but we look forward to following the championship years ahead at South Carolina.”

—Vice Chancellor & Director of Athletics Mark Wharton, Chattanooga Mocs

“Lamont has done it the right way and rebuilt Chattanooga. High-character, great relationships with players and can really coach. I can’t wait to see what he can do in Columbia.”

—Jeff Goodman, Stadium Basketball Insider

“Lamont Paris is a program builder. Trained and tutored by Bo Ryan when he was at Wisconsin, Lamont is fully aware of what it takes to be successful in any environment. Those types of instincts and skills should blend seamlessly at South Carolina.”

—Jon Rothstein, CBS Sports

“First and foremost you are getting a great human being and a terrific basketball coach in Lamont Paris at South Carolina. Kids are just going to absolutely love playing for him, and that’s one of the most important things. He is going to recruit people that you will be very proud to have on your campus.”

—Andy North, ESPN Golf Analyst and two-time U.S. Open Champion

“I’m really excited for Lamont. He is a great coach and person – who will bring both tremendous experience, and everyday, positive energy to his new role at South Carolina. He is a hard worker, he is really bright and he genuinely cares about others. I can’t wait to watch his teams play.”

—Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations

LAMONT PARIS COACHING RECORD

Season School Position Overall Conference Finish Postseason
1997-98 Wooster Assistant Coach 22-6 15-1 1st NCAA Div. III 2nd Round
1998-99 DePauw Assistant Coach 16-11 11-9
1999-2000 DePauw Assistant Coach 17-8 11-7
2000-01 IUP Assistant Coach 17-10 8-4 2nd
2001-02 IUP Assistant Coach 28-5 9-3 T1st NCAA Div. II Final Four
2002-03 IUP Assistant Coach 16-11 5-7 5th
2003-04 IUP Assistant Coach 21-10 7-5 3rd NCAA Div. II 1st Round
2004-05 Akron Assistant Coach 19-10 11-7 4th MAC East
2005-06 Akron Assistant Coach 23-10 14-4 2nd MAC East NIT 2nd Round
2006-07 Akron Assistant Coach 26-7 13-3 1st MAC East
2007-08 Akron Assistant Coach 24-11 11-6 2nd MAC East NIT 2nd Round
2008-09 Akron Assistant Coach 23-13 10-6 3rd MAC East NCAA 1st Round
2009-10 Akron Assistant Coach 24-11 12-4 2nd MAC East CBI 1st Round
2010-11 Wisconsin Assistant Coach 25-9 13-5 3rd Big Ten NCAA Sweet 16
2011-12 Wisconsin Assistant Coach 26-10 12-6 4th Big Ten NCAA Sweet 16
2012-13 Wisconsin Assistant Coach 23-12 12-6 T4th Big Ten NCAA 1st Round
2013-14 Wisconsin Assistant Coach 30-8 12-6 T2nd Big Ten NCAA Final Four
2014-15 Wisconsin Assistant Coach 36-4 16-2 1st Big Ten NCAA Runner-Up
2015-16 Wisconsin Assistant Coach 22-13 12-6 T3rd Big Ten NCAA Sweet 16
2016-17 Wisconsin Associate Head Coach 27-10 12-6 T2nd Big Ten NCAA Sweet 16
2017-18 Chattanooga Head Coach 10-23 3-15 10th SoCon
2018-19 Chattanooga Head Coach 12-20 7-11 5th SoCon
2019-20 Chattanooga Head Coach 20-13 10-8 T5th SoCon
2020-21 Chattanooga Head Coach 18-7 9-7 4th SoCon
2021-22 Chattanooga Head Coach 27-8 14-4 1st SoCon NCAA 1st Round
2022-23 South Carolina Head Coach 11-21 4-14 12th SEC
Overall As Head Coach 98-93 47-59