AP source: Chattanooga’s Paris to coach South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina and Chattanooga’s Lamont Paris have reached a five-year deal for him to become the next men’s basketball coach, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday because South Carolina has not announced the deal, which was first reported by ESPN. Any hiring would have to be approved by the school’s board of trustees before it becomes official.

Paris would take over for Frank Martin, who was fired last week after 10 seasons with just one NCAA Tournament appearance. He would become the first Black men’s basketball head coach at South Carolina.

Paris went 27-8 this season with Chattanooga, winning the Southern Conference regular season and tournament titles. The Mocs took fourth-seeded Illinois to the limit in a 54-53 loss in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last week.

Martin led the Gamecocks to an 18-13 record this season, but the team was passed over for the NIT. Martin was fired the next day.

Paris, 47, was 87-71 with Chattanooga over the past five seasons. He is 65-28 the last three years, including gaining the school’s first NCAA berth since 2016. Before that, he was an assistant coach at Wisconsin, first under Bo Ryan and then Greg Gard.

The decision to hire Paris brings a disjointed coaching search to an end. Gamecocks officials had targeted ex-Arizona coach Sean Miller, who returned to a previous position as Xavier’s coach. They had also looked at Murray State’s Matt McMahon, who was hired as LSU’s new coach on Monday, and the program’s all-time leading scorer in Wake Forest assistant coach BJ McKie.

Paris is expected to face a roster overhaul at South Carolina as three of the five top scorers, including top two Jermaine Couisnard and Erik Stevenson, were honored at Senior Night despite having eligibility remaining.

Third-leading scorer James Reese V has completed his eligibility.

The person who confirmed the deal to the AP did not want to disclose Paris’ salary. Martin made $3.2 million this season.

The school hopes to introduce Paris later this week.

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