South Carolina Basketball: Despite being national finalist for Coach of the Year, Lamont Paris is being overlooked

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris was one of four finalists for National Coach of the Year last season but was left completely off of a top-50 coach ranking.
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris turned in one of the top coaching jobs in the country in the 2023-2024 season. He led the Gamecocks, just one year after tying a program record losses (21), to a 26-8 mark, tying an all-time team record for wins and reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the Final Four run after the 2016-2017 campaign.

For his efforts, Paris was a deserving finalist for multiple National Coach of the Year honors. He also has continued his strong work in recruiting the high school ranks and the transfer portal, giving South Carolina basketball fans realistic hope that next season can be a strong showing from USC, as well.

As one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the country, the University of South Carolina inked Paris to a long-term extension, a move that was applauded by most in the college basketball world.

Somehow, though, Coach Paris still has doubters.

On Friday night, College Basketball Report put out their ranking of the top-50 coaches in the country, and, inexplicably, Lamont Paris was nowhere to be found.

It doesn't take one being a college basketball expert to know that omitting Lamont Paris from this list is a huge mistake. The other three finalists for Naismith National Coach of the Year (Houston's Kelvin Sampson, UConn's Dan Hurley, and Iowa State's TJ Oztelberger) were all ranked in the top-13. Simply based on CBR's own rankings, Paris had 12 wins over coaches in the top-50, but he wasn't included.

Paris went 12-5 in 17 opportunities against the teams led by those men, including blowout victories over Chris Beard's Ole Miss Rebels team, Micah Shrewsberry's Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Eric Musselman's Arkansas Razorbacks (he is now with the Southern Cal Trojans), and John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats (he is now with the Arkansas Razorbacks).

Coach Paris and the Gamecocks seem to enjoy playing with a chip on their collective shoulder, so perhaps this disrespect will only serve to fuel South Carolina basketball as they fight for their first back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament since the '90s.

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