South Carolina Basketball: Lamont Paris named finalist for Naismith National Coach of the Year

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris was named a finalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year award.

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball fans are still mourning their team's 1st round exit in the NCAA Tournament at the hands of former Gamecock and the Oregon Ducks, but there is plenty to celebrate from this season.

As most USC fans are aware, the Gamecocks went from tying a program record for losses (21) last year to tying a program record for wins (26) this year. The largest turnaround in South Carolina basketball history was orchestrated from year 1 to year 2 of the Lamont Paris era. Voted 14th out of 14 in the preseason SEC standings, the Gamecocks finished tied for 2nd in the 2023-2024 season and set a new record for regular season wins.

Coach Paris has already won the SEC Coach of the Year honor as awarded by the league's coaches and won the SEC Coach of the Year from the Associated Press, and he was chosen as the National Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

On Monday, Paris took the next step to winning another major honor as he was named one of just four finalists for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award. He is joined as a finalist by Dan Hurley (UConn Huskies), Kelvin Sampson (Houston Cougars), and TJ Otzelberger (Iowa State Cyclones).

UConn and Houston were preseason top-10 teams, while Iowa State and South Carolina were unranked in the preseason polls. Otzelberger and Paris unquestionably had better coaching jobs this season, but it is Hurley and Paris who have dominated the discourse around the National Coach of the Year Award.

The Gamecocks' early March Madness defeat could hurt Paris' chances of winning the award, but considering the reversal of fortunes within the South Carolina basketball program in just a year, Carolina's headman deserves to be honored for his work in Columbia.

Fans can play a role in the decision-making process by voting for Coach Paris at naismithfanvote.com or by voting on Twitter/X on the @NaismithAwards, @MarchMadness, or @MarchMadnessWBB pages.

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