New USC basketball coach Lamont Paris has had quite the welcome from the players on the team. Five scholarship players and a walk-on have hit the NCAA Transfer Portal since he was hired, and more are expected to leave. For Paris, that means there’s more room to bring in new players, and his top target right now is 6-10 GG Jackson of Ridge View.
Jackson is in the 2023 class but will be eligible to reclassify for the 2022 class if he chooses to do so. That would allow him to sign with a college in April or go to the G League if he decides to turn pro. Monday afternoon at Ridge View, Paris had his first in-person meeting with Jackson and his father.
“It went really well,” said Ridge View coach Yerrick Stoneman. “I met coach (Sunday) during brunch. What an amazing person. I think he’s going to be very similar to (football) coach (Shane) Beamer in the fact that the community is definitely going to get behind him and want to be around him just because of his personality. I think the visit today went extremely well with GG and his dad. Unfortunately, GG’s momma couldn’t be here, but that just means they get to meet again soon. Momma is going to make the big decision in that family. She’s the one they all lean on for decisions. I know that they are a little behind, and he knows he’s a little behind, but he really worked hard today trying to build that relationship between the Jacksons and himself and his program that he’s going to bring to South Carolina.”
Stoneman said Monday’s meeting was not bogged down with a lot of basketball minutiae, though they did talk some Xs and Os. Instead, it was a chance for Paris to show the Jackson’s why they should give him more time to recruit GG and keep the Gamecocks at the top of his list as they were when Frank Martin was the coach.
“It was more of coach introducing himself to the Jackson family,” Stoneman said. “Also, letting them know the style of play they are going to play. He’s going to be surrounded by good players, and defensively what he expects. A lot of that stuff comes easy to GG. He has a really high IQ. I think the biggest thing he talked about was he doesn’t have to be rushed into any decision he has to make right now. GG academically has done well enough where he can reclass if he chooses to, but there’s no need to rush into that decision. He said whatever God wants for you, it’s going to happen, you’ve just got to trust the process and continue to be hungry and work.”
Listen to SportsTalk interview with Coach Stoneman
Jackson has taken four of his junior official visits to USC, Duke, North Carolina and Georgetown leaving him one more. Auburn was in last week and made a strong presentation according to Stoneman but there’s been no decision to visit there. Jackson could take a second official visit to USC since there has been a coaching change there, and that’s something that’s being considered. In the meantime, the other schools are still doing their work.
“The last two, three weeks, North Caroline and Duke, they still contact once a week, maybe twice a week, but they are still focused on what’s at stake right now,” Stoneman said. “When Coach Martin’s staff was there, Chuck Martin and Frank called like every day either the family or me. They were definitely recruiting him hard, and I think Coach Paris is going to do the same thing. He’s knowns that it’s a priority for him that he needed to recruit GG and be here. He wouldn’t have tried to build a relationship with me as early as he has if he didn’t know that GG would be a priority for South Carolina, not just the basketball program but for the University. I also know he’s really working hard to gain some confidence within the other top players in the state, whether it’s Julian Phillips, Kyle Greene, Cam Scott, to the Butler kid (at Christ Church). There’s another kid at White Knoll (2025 class 6-6 Treyvon Maddox) who maybe has the potential to be good as all of them, if not better. He knows of the kids in the state that he’s really got to focus on.”
The coaching change at USC may also lead to a delay in a final decision from Jackson.
“They have talked about after the NCAA Tournament and before the AAU season really got kicked off,” Stoneman said. “I think the first live period is April 7, 8 and 9, so I felt like at one time it was going to be around that time. When Coach (Paris) came in and gave his pitch, the family might decide to say let’s really sit down and be patient with this and see what Coach Paris and his staff have to offer us as a basketball player.”
Jackson last weekend continued to build his reputation on a national stage. He was named the co-MVP of the Underclassmen All-American game in Norcross, GA.