South Carolina Basketball: Lamont Paris named national coach of the week by ESPN

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris got some much-deserved love when he was named the national coach of the week by ESPN.
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris had a lot of doubters heading into this season. The 2022-2023 season, his first in Columbia, was a disaster as the Gamecocks tied the program's all-time record for losses (21), Paris' in-game coaching struggled for much of the season, and the program's first 5-star in years had campaign.

The Gamecock headman went to work in the offseason, making sure to lock up top-100 national recruit Collin Murray-Boyles (despite big pushes from other programs) and attacking the transfer portal to bring in more talent. All five of the Gamecocks' starters came from Paris transfer portal wins (four of them this cycle), and Murray-Boyles has emerged as the team's top bench option down low.

Even with Coach Paris' offseason triumphs, USC was picked to finish 14th in the SEC by the media.

The efforts have paid off, and Paris, himself, has made some nice adjustments to his coaching. The hard work had put the Gamecocks in a good position to prove the doubters wrong.

Now, South Carolina basketball is a good team for the first time in years. At 13-1 and 1-0 in the SEC, the Gamecocks knocked off a good Mississippi State team on Saturday, beating them at their own game, out-rebounding the Bulldogs, and drawing more fouls in the physical matchup.

Arguably the turning point of the game came when Paris inserted Collin Murray-Boyles and Josh Gray early to infuse some physicality into his frontcourt after a disastrous start in which the Gamecocks got pushed around down low. The move worked as CMB and Gray played hard and fought, wings Myles Stute and Zach Davis played inspired ball, and BJ Mack and Stephen Clark upped their physical play when they returned to the game.

Despite the win, the Gamecocks were snubbed again from the AP top-25 poll on Monday, but Paris got some deserved love from the media.

ESPN's Jeff Borzello named Coach Paris his National Coach of the Week in his weekly power rankings and awards article. Paris' Gamecocks impressed the ESPN college basketball analyst with their home win over Mississippi State as they overcame an ugly start to control the game the whole 2nd half.

Meechie Johnson got a little love from Borzello, as well, and he called Paris' work from year 1 to year 2 in Columbia "unbelievable."

The Gamecock headman might be in for a repeat performance if his team can continue its winning ways. Two road games against Alabama and Missouri stand before USC, however, starting a difficult stretch of schedule before South Carolina.

If Lamont Paris can his team can continue their "unbelievable" work, this small honor will not be their last this season.

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