South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris took a lot of heat for how his team performed last season. Despite having a 5-star freshman in GG Jackson and a couple of high-profile transfers, the Gamecocks tied a school record for losses (21).
That feels like a distant memory to Gamecock fans this season.
Jackson is in the NBA, Hayden Brown graduated, and a bevy of players hit the transfer portal. Coach Paris hit back and brought in four veterans in the portal.
All four of those veteran transfers are starting alongside returner Meechie Johnson, and the Gamecocks are 5-0 despite being without elite freshman Collina Murray-Boyles who is out with mononucleosis. The fifth win gave South Carolina basketball the championship belt (yes, the championship belt) for winning the Arizona Tipoff Tournament this weekend.
As one of less than 60 undefeated teams remaining in college basketball, the Gamecocks are trending ever closer to the top-25.
In Monday’s AP poll, USC found itself in the “others receiving votes” portion of the poll. The Gamecocks were the 40th team overall in the voting, being placed in the top-25 of two different ballots, including a 23rd-place ranking in one ballot that had the Gamecocks ahead of the rival Clemson Tigers (who were in 24th).
South Carolina basketball has a bit of a break for the Thanksgiving holiday but will return to action at Colonial Life Arena next Tuesday when Notre Dame travels to Columbia as part of the first annual ACC/SEC Challenge. USC has a chance for the basketball sweep of the Fighting Irish as Dawn Staley’s #1-ranked women’s team demolished Notre Dame in their season opener in Paris.
A win over the Irish might put the Gamecocks into the top-25. If ranked, it would be the first time South Carolina basketball has been in the AP poll since the 2016-2017 season when they made it all the way to the Final Four.