Lamont Paris ’96 will deliver the keynote address at The College of Wooster’s Commencement on Saturday, May 11. Wooster’s Commencement starts at 1 p.m. Those attending in-person can hear Paris’ keynote address in the Gault Recreation Center inside Wooster’s Scot Center or watch the stream online at
               One of the Fighting Scots’ men’s basketball program’s greatest post-College of Wooster success stories is University of South Carolina head men’s basketball coach Lamont Paris ’96. Paris’ experiences at Wooster helped chart the path forward to a very successful coaching career rooted in what goes into winning, making strong relationships and connections, and overcoming challenges and obstacles.
               Paris originally had no interest in coaching full-time after graduation. Wooster legendary head coach Steve Moore saw something special in Paris’ talent and ability to relate to players and extended an invitation to join the staff after graduation.
               The passion for coaching grew during Paris’ two years on Wooster’s staff. The assistance of the College helped the aspiring coach make it work financially with a part-time position in Admissions and chemistry professor Ted Williams offering up the “friends and family rate” at a little in-town apartment.
               An opportunity at DePauw University presented Paris the opportunity for the first-generation college student to have a master’s degree paid for. That experience, which included coaching Brad Stevens, current president of basketball operations for the NBA’s Boston Celtics, was the main reason Paris stayed in the profession. By the time the master’s degree was completed, Paris “knew this is what I wanted to do.”
               What “winning at the collegiate level meant” and “all the things that went into it” represented early on-court building blocks for Paris’ coaching style. Winning was synonymous with Wooster’s storied basketball program during Paris’ career, as he played on teams that went 84-25, advanced to three NCAA Div. III Championships, and won two North Coast Athletic Conference titles.
               “Overcoming obstacles” and learning to relate and connect with “a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds” are among the top non-basketball lessons Paris has taken with him from Wooster. Johan Nyblom ’96, a tennis player from Sweden and good friend of Paris, was one of several cultural interactions Paris cited as being transformative. With international basketball players more prominent in today’s college game, Paris has a leg up in that regard, thanks to his Wooster experience.         Paris, a business economics major, “never even conceived an academic challenge,” the magnitude of Wooster’s signature Independent Study, however, that is one of the coach’s proudest successes. A bound copy of Paris’ I.S. “Taxation of Sin: The Effects of Excise Taxes on the Demand Function of Cigarettes” is easily accessible in the office desk, and something “I’ve shown to a couple of our players when I talk about overcoming challenges and obstacles.”
               Pure joy radiates from Paris when reflecting on his career journey. No matter the NCAA level or location of where he is coaching, Paris treats the job as “the greatest.” He attributes the transition to his first Div. I job at the University of Akron due to the “progressions in the successes I was having at each institution I was at.”
               Team success at Akron landed Paris at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as the lead assistant. There, he helped lead the Badgers to the national championship game in 2015, two Final Fours, and four NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. Hallmarks of Wooster’s program like having an extremely high belief in the players and getting the entire team to fully buy into the program helped Paris and Wisconsin achieve ultimate team success.
               “Wisconsin was one of the first places I really saw that if you apply these principles – what you thought was important to winning, developing a really good team, and if those guys came together – that you could accomplish anything,” summed up Paris. “I believe that and that is how I have done it. I learned what it was like to be able to put those pieces together to compete and the things that you needed to do to be able to compete in the game of basketball.”
               At South Carolina, Paris knows he does not have the same name recognition and program stature as other Southeastern Conference schools, but that does not deter him one bit. He has stayed committed to his Wooster roots and the Gamecocks answered the challenge, buying in to tie for second in the SEC after being picked last in the preseason poll. Because of his great players, Paris was selected by the Associated Press as the SEC Coach of the Year.
               Wooster’s basketball program is truly a family, and Paris still stays connected to this day. He invited the team down to play an exhibition game while head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He stays in touch regularly with Moore, who will “put his two cents in” from time to time. Paris appreciates that and knows Moore will always take the call when he needs guidance on a situation, even over 25 years into his own successful coaching career.