Lamont Paris discusses first impressions of South Carolina players: 'It's been really fun to be around them'
It’s year 1 of the Lamont Paris era at South Carolina, as the former Chattanooga head coach takes the reins of a Gamecocks program that hasn’t been able to capitalize on a Final Four run it made in 2017.
South Carolina ultimately parted ways with Frank Martin after a decade as the Gamecocks never were able to return to the NCAA Tournament following their dream season 5 years ago. It turned to Paris, who led a Mocs program that won 10 games in his first season in 2017-18 to 27 wins, a Southern Conference title, and an NCAA appearance in 2021-22.
Now, it’s a matter of instilling his coaching style at his new program, and so far, so good.
“Any time you’re implementing a whole new system and changing philosophy, there are a lot of challenges that come with that. So I really like where this group is in terms of trying to get accomplished the things that we value and are going to value and trying to get accomplished,” he said on Wednesday, according to The State. “They are really enjoying themselves and being around each other every day at practice. And so it’s been really fun to be around them and to watch them and to coach them.”
One person Paris has leaned on is his counterpart on the women’s side: Dawn Staley, who led the Gamecocks to their 2nd national championship in 6 years this past spring. South Carolina won 10 games in her first season in Columbia in 2008-09 and is now one of the country’s elite women’s basketball programs.
“With Dawn, I’ve talked about what her process was, going from the proverbial — these are extremes — outhouse to the penthouse, and what that looked like and how important the community was in supporting her and getting some local players even,” he said.