South Carolina Basketball: Jon Rothstein continues to doubt the Gamecocks

CBS Sports college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein has been a big doubter of the South Carolina basketball program during the Lamont Paris era, and he disrespected the Gamecocks once again on Monday.
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Lamont Paris has done a masterful job of resurrecting the South Carolina basketball program to relevancy. The Gamecocks did not enjoy much success after their 2016-2017 Final Four run, and after parting ways with Frank Martin, Coach Paris helped orchestrate one of the biggest turnarounds in recent college basketball history.

Carolina tied a record for program losses (21) in the 2022-2023 season as finding wins in Paris' first year on the job was an impossible task thanks to the offseason attrition following the coaching change. However, in Paris' first full year on the job, he put together a much-improved squad that tied a program record for wins (26) and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016-2017.

After the season ended, the Gamecocks lost several key contributors (guards Meechie Johnson and Ta'Lon Cooper, forwards BJ Mack and Stephen Clark, and center Josh Gray were the most notable), but thanks to Paris' recruiting efforts from both the high school ranks and the transfer portal, there is reason to believe that the 2024-2025 version of the South Carolina basketball team could be even better.

Despite the impressive resurgence and Paris' roster retooling, there are some in the college basketball media world who still have reservations about backing the Gamecocks.

One of the most prominent names who has not bought into Coach Paris' team for the 2024-2025 season is CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein. Late on Sunday, the "We Sleep in May" creator had a relatively disrespectful view on the Gamecocks' outlook for the season as he listed every team in the SEC he viewed as having "NCAA Tournament expectations" for next year and did not name the South Carolina Gamecocks on his list.

Rothstein said that the Alabama Crimson Tide, Texas Longhorns, Georgia Bulldogs, Arkansas Razorbacks, Kentucky Wildcats, Auburn Tigers, Texas A&M Aggies, Tennessee Volunteers, Ole Miss Rebels, Florida Gators, and Mississippi State Bulldogs all have NCAA Tournament aspirations for next season.

The Gamecocks beat Georgia, Arkansas (twice), Kentucky, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Ole Miss (twice), Mississippi State (twice), and Florida last season en route to their 26-8 record. But even with a roster that is expected to be a little better this year, they did not get included among Rothstein's 11 March Madness contenders.

Frankly, for someone who covers college basketball like Rothstein, the take doesn't make much sense. Even if he doesn't think Carolina will challenge for a tourney bid this season, to omit the Gamecocks from the discussion completely is a major oversight.

As Coach Paris has made clear during his time in Columbia, the Gamecocks pay attention to the media's disrespect of the garnet and black. However, instead of allowing it to weigh them down, South Carolina basketball has adopted the attitude of their head coach.

Last season, after being left out of the top-25 for far too long, Paris told reporters that the media motivated them, but they would make sure to make their presence known. "If they like us, they like us; if not, they'll pay the price" became a rallying cry throughout Gamecock Nation, and if Rothstein's view of the Gamecocks is any indication, Carolina will be utilizing that mantra once again this season as they fight to make back-to-back NCAA Tournaments for the first time since the '90s.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: 4-star forward commits to Gamecocks. South Carolina Basketball: 4-star forward commits to Gamecocks. dark