USC athletics director Ray Tanner is set to hire UT-Chattanooga coach Lamont Paris as the Gamecocks new men’s basketball coach. Pete Themel and Jeff Borzello of ESPN reported late Monday night Paris had agreed to a five-year contract as the replacement for Frank Martin who was fired a week ago after ten seasons with the Gamecocks. Paris becomes the first African American hired as a head coach for a major men’s team in USC history.
The 47-year-old Paris spent the last five seasons with the Moccasins of the Southern Conference and led them to the regular season and tournament championships this season. His team lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, their only appearance in the tournament during his tenure. Paris was 87-71 overall and 43-45 in the Southern Conference at UTC. His last two teams were 45-15 and 23-11. Paris built the roster for his team this season around transfers. Eight of the 16 players on the roster came from other programs. Prior to UTC, Paris was an assistant at Wisconsin and went to the NCAA Tournament every season with the Badgers.
Paris and former Gamecock star and current Wake Forest assistant BJ McKie were the finalists for the job. Others known to have been interviewed by Tanner were former Arizona coach Sean Miller, now at Xavier; former Cleveland State coach Dennis Gates, now at Missouri; and Furman coach Bob Richey, who withdrew from consideration Sunday. Tanner also had interest in former Murray State coach Matt McMahon, now at LSU. It is not known if he had the chance to interview McMahon before he took the LSU job. Monday.
Paris inherits a program that finished 18-13 this season and missed the postseason for the fourth straight time since reaching the Final Four in 2017. All but two players are eligible to return for next season.