South Carolina Basketball: Ohio State fires head coach, reportedly targeting Lamont Paris

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris is a major target for the Ohio State Buckeyes in their search for a head coach.

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina basketball is in the midst of their best regular season in over 25 years, and the high level of play displayed by the Gamecocks has fans hoping for a major run in the NCAA Tournament like the 2016-2017 Final Four squad.

The Gamecocks' rise to prominence came as a big-time surprise to many as USC was picked last in the SEC preseason standings. Now, tied for 1st place in the league and ranked 11th in the country, head coach Lamont Paris is a shoo-in for SEC Coach of the Year and an early favorite for National Coach of the Year.

With all of this sudden success comes a lot of attention, and it appears that Coach Paris has caught the attention of a major program.

On Wednesday, the Ohio State Buckeyes fired head basketball coach Chris Holtmann, and within an hour, reports began surfacing linking Lamont Paris to the job, including one from national analyst Jeff Goldman.

South Carolina basketball fans, before running to your next ledge, you should know that there is nothing close to done for any candidate to be the next headman in Columbus. In fact, Ohio State is a big enough job that they will have a number of candidates. Names like Sean Miller, Greg McDermott, Mick Cronin, Jay Wright, and John Calipari have all been floated as possibly the next coach of the Buckeyes.

Coach Paris is in year 2 of a 5-year contract that he signed in 2022, and he is the lowest-paid coach in the Southeastern Conference. If he is to stay in Columbia, that will have to change. Gamecock fans should expect Athletics Director Ray Tanner and his staff to have multiple potential contracts drawn up for Paris and his agent to read over the next couple of days.

As of now, there is no reason for fans to worry about the Quarter Zip King leaving the Palmetto State. Sure, the Ohio native makes a lot of sense at Ohio State or at a number of potential jobs that could come open over the next month and a half.

However, until there is news that the University of South Carolina and Lamont Paris are struggling to come to an extension agreement, the expectation should be that he sticks around with the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Coach Paris is building a program to respectability, and, frankly, respectability is the standard at South Carolina. Making a few NCAA Tournaments and being competitive most seasons would make Paris a fan favorite, and if he managed to turn the Gamecocks into a real contender, he could join his women's basketball counterpart Dawn Staley as a lifelong legend in the city of Columbia.

For now, Coach Paris and his 1st place South Carolina basketball team will take on the Auburn Tigers tonight in Neville Arena at 8:30. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

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