South Carolina Basketball: Jon Rothstein reverses course, includes Gamecocks among NCAA Tournament hopefuls

South Carolina basketball fans felt that Lamont Paris' Gamecocks were disrespected by Jon Rothstein earlier this week, but the CBS Sports' analyst changed his tune.
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, CBS Sports analyst Jon Rothstein caught the ire of South Carolina basketball fans when he listed 11 schools that he felt had NCAA Tournament aspirations this season. The Gamecocks did not get a mention from Rothstein despite the team's 26-win campaign and March Madness berth last season.

Whether it was due to the fan outrage that followed or because he recognized he had made a glaring omission, Rothstein changed his tune a bit on Wednesday.

When speaking on his College Hoops Today Podcast, Rothstein argued that the SEC's addition of the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners could lead the conference to set an all-time record for the most teams earning a bid from a single league. He then listed 13 schools with realistic tourney hopes, and, this time, he included Lamont Paris' South Carolina basketball squad in the discussion.

The 13 teams Rothstein mentioned were the South Carolina Gamecocks, Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers, Arkansas Razorbacks, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Ole Miss Rebels, Georgia Bulldogs, Florida Gators, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma Sooners, Tennessee Volunteers, and Kentucky Wildcats. The only teams in the league who did not get a Rothstein shoutout were the LSU Tigers, Vanderbilt Commodores, and Missouri Tigers.

Though the expectations are (rightly) present in Columbia, making another NCAA Tournament won't be a walk in the park for the Gamecocks.

Carolina is replacing six scholarship players from last year's roster as Meechie Johnson (transfer portal), Josh Gray (transfer portal), Ebrima Dibba (transfer portal), BJ Mack (graduation), Ta'Lon Cooper (graduation), and Stephen Clark (graduation) have all moved on from the program.

Lamont Paris and his coaching staff have brought in two 4-star high school prospects (top-50 national prospect Cam Scott and top-100 forward Okku Federiko) and three transfer portal players (point guard Jamarii Thomas and post players Jordan Butler and Nick Pringle) to help fill the void left by the six departures. There is still one available scholarship on the 2024-2025 roster.

It won't be easy, but the offseason roster retooling from Paris and company should give South Carolina basketball fans some optimism that their Gamecocks can make back-to-back tournaments for the first time since the 1990s.

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