1 A Paris

West Columbia’s Lamont Paris named Men’s SEC Basketball Coach of the Year after leading Gamecocks to 25-win season, joins Dawn Staley with the honor

University of South Carolina Men’s Basketball Coach Lamont Paris has been named Men’s SEC Basketball Coach of the Year, the league office announced. He becomes the third coach in program history, joining Eddie Fogler (1997) and Dave Odom (2004), to be named SEC Coach of the Year by the league’s coaches. The Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1991-92.

Paris is a West Columbia resident and he was the speaker at the Cayce-West Columbia Chamber Golf Tournament in 2023. Dawn Staley, USC Women’s Coach, is also a resident of West Columbia.

USC Women’s Coach Dawn Staley, who also lives in West Columbia, was named SEC women’s basketball coach of the year for the third consecutive year last week.

Paris, Councilwoman Deb Summers and Tim James, CWC Chamber

Click here to see the announcement from USC Athletic Department

Paris and his staff helped engineer the greatest single season turnaround in program history with the team’s 14-win improvement and a T-2nd finish in the SEC. South Carolina went 25-6 and 13-5 in league play this season. The 25 regular season wins are the most in program history. The 13th SEC wins are the second most in program history behind only the 1996-97 SEC Champion squad (went 15-1 to win first and only league crown in Gamecock history).

The Gamecocks won seven SEC games on the road this season, tying the 1996-97 team for the most SEC victories away from home in a single season. Carolina boast an impressive 11-3 record in true road and neutral site games this season. That’s the best mark in the SEC and T-2nd best mark in the nation amongst the Power Six with No. 2/2 UCONN and No. 1/1 Houston. No. 3/3 Purdue has the best record in true road/neutral site games at 12-3.

Staley SEC women’s basketball coach of the year.

South Carolina was 3-3 against AP Top-25 opponents this season. The Gamecocks are one of 18 teams in the country with multiple top-10 wins and one of five teams in the nation with a top-five true road win. Carolina beat No. 6/6 Kentucky 79-62 at home on Jan. 23 and No. 5/5 Tennessee, 63-59, in Knoxville on Jan. 30. Per Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time the Gamecocks had defeated a pair of top-10 teams in a three-game stretch since 1968. Carolina’s win over the Vols was the team’s first AP Top-Five road victory since defeating No. 3 Kentucky, 72-66, on March 2, 1997.

The top-25 wins were a part of a seven-game SEC win streak for the Gamecocks this season, the longest win streak for the team in league play since the 1996-97 squad started SEC action 11-0. South Carolina had the best scoring defense in the SEC this season, allowing just 66.4 points per game. The team held 24 opponents below 70 points this season, which led the SEC and T-5th nationally. The Gamecocks held 13 SEC opponents below 70 points, which also led the league.

The Gamecocks returned to the top-25 for the first time since 2017 back in Week 14 on Feb. 5. Carolina, who is ranked No. 15/16 this week, has remained there the past six weeks and will likely the regular season ranked in the AP Top-25 Poll for the first time since being ranked No. 14 in the final AP Poll of 1998. The Gamecocks have been ranked as high as No. 11 in both major polls this season, the highest top-25 mark for the program since being slotted 11th in Week 7 (Dec. 29) of the 1997-98 season.

In addition to coach Paris’ prestigious honor, graduate guard Ta’Lon Cooper and junior guard Meechie Johnson were named Second Team All-SEC. Standout first-year forward Collin Murray-Boyles was also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

The last time the Gamecocks had multiple players earn All-SEC honors in the same season was Devan Downey (Coaches and AP First Team) and Dominque Archie (Coaches Second Team, AP Honorable Mention) in 2009. Murray-Boyles is the third straight Gamecock to be named to the all-freshman team (Gregory “GG” Jackson II in 2023 and Devin Carter in 2022). He’s the 14th player in program history to be named to the all-rookie squad. Cooper and Johnson are the 30th and 31st All-SEC honorees in program history.

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