South Carolina Basketball: 3 thumbs up from a great season

South Carolina basketball had one of the best seasons in all of college basketball this year, and fans should be encouraged about what Lamont Paris can build.

South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris
South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Basketball's 2023-2024 Season
Thumbs Up 3: Thanks for the memories

While much of the prevailing thoughts of this season will relate to how it makes South Carolina basketball better in the future, when Gamecock fans think back to this team, they should have plenty of great memories.

Just walking through the schedule should bring a smile to the faces of Gamecock fans.

Carolina started off 7-0 and 11-1 in out-of-conference play, creating a really fun start of the year in which fans started to toy around iwth the idea that USC might could challenge for the NCAA Tournament bubble. Beating Virginia Tech in a neutral site game, winning the Arizona Tip-Off Iincluding knocking off Grand Canyon), and whipping Notre Dame and George Washington in back-to-back games was fun.

SEC play started and finished with tough wins over NCAA Tournament team Mississippi State, and outside of three games against the state of Alabama (@ Alabama, @ Auburn, and SEC Tournament vs. Auburn), Lamont Paris led his team to a 14-3 record against teams from one of the top conferences in the country. Carolina smacked the Kentucky Wildcats in Columbia, then beat the Tennessee Volunteers on the road, and when still unranked after those top-10 wins, the Fighting Q-Zips just kept winning until they hit a 7-game win streak in the league.

Jacobi Wright hit a game-winner against Missouri, BJ Mack and Meechie Johnson both had several clutch performances down the stretch in games, Collin Murray-Boyles had a ridiculous game-saving block against Ole Miss, and Meechie Johnson beat Texas A&M when he found Zach Davis for a game-winning layup. Davis' defense, especially in the 1-3-1 zone, has become the stuff of opponents' nightmares.

Ta'Lon Cooper was a special player and leader this year who took his play to the next level when Carolina had their biggest wins of the year. Myles Stute played multiple roles for the team and hit some ice-water-in-his-veins free throws to finish off the Tennessee win. Josh Gray reignited his love for basketball and became a valuable player again after a poor start to the year. Even less-used players like Stephen Clark, Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk, and Morris Ugusuk had big moments.

The list of memories from the 2023-2024 season could go on and on. Hopefully the disappointing ending doesn't cause too many fans to lose sight of what happened in Columbia this year: a special coach led a special group to a special season that could prove to be a program-changing year.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: Lamont Paris wins National Coach of the Year honor. South Carolina Basketball: Lamont Paris wins National Coach of the Year honor. dark