Between moving to a new city, adjusting to new jobs and tapping into the transfer portal, Lamont Paris and his South Carolina men’s basketball coaching staff have had a hectic few weeks.
There’s always another phone call to make.
“It’s like drinking water through a fire hose,” said new assistant coach Eddie Shannon, laughing. “It’s been an experience. Just a lot of moving parts. … You get a phone call for recruiting, then you get a phone call about a house, and it’s like, ‘Oh man!’ You got so many people to call. “
The most immediate challenge for Paris, Shannon and fellow new assistant coaches Tanner Bronson and Tim Buckley has been fielding a competitive roster. Since Paris’ hiring March 21, eight Gamecocks have jumped into the transfer portal, and none of the team’s starting five players from last season remain with the team.
But there’s a sense of comfort for Paris and his staff when it comes to the transfer portal, which Paris has utilized as a key piece of roster building throughout his career. Last season’s NCAA tournament-bound Chattanooga team featured eight transfers, and early indications are that the transfer portal will play a significant role in constructing Paris’ teams at South Carolina.
“I think a big part of our job is adapting to roster management and making sure we have guys that can step in and play right away,” said Bronson, who also coached with Paris and Shannon at Chattanooga. “I think something that has really helped us is getting an older group. And then you keep your influx of talent – some really talented younger guys and maybe some guys that are early in their development. ”
Bronson said that “staying old” is one of the benefits that comes from building a transfer-heavy team, and it’s clear that this coaching staff values experience in the four transfer players they’ve picked up so far.
Hayden Brown, a 6-foot-5 graduate student from The Citadel, already has his master’s degree, and the staff expects him to seize a leadership role quickly. Former Coastal Carolina guard Ebrima Dibba is heading to USC for his fifth season of basketball, and the lengthy 6-foot-6 Dibba could fill a variety of on-court roles. Even Ohio State transfer Meechie Johnson, at only 19 years old, brings a fair amount of experience playing against top competition in the Big Ten.
“I think the one thing you realize is these guys have played a lot of college basketball games, and at a pretty high level,” Bronson said of the transfers. “They know who they are. As a player, they know what they’re about. They’re confident in what they’re capable of.
“Coming to the SEC, there will be an adjustment period. But I think what you realize is those guys have a confidence level that they can play. And they’re going to be able to do some things just because they’ve been out there, they have the experience of it. And it gives you a little bit more leadership. “
The Gamecocks aren’t done making additions. Both Bronson and Shannon said the Gamecocks are on the hunt for shooters to add to the roster, as well as another big man to add depth to the frontcourt. It would also not be surprising to see USC pursue former Chattanooga guard Malachi Smith, the reigning Southern Conference player of the year, who entered the transfer portal at the end of April.
Until USC puts the finishing touches on the roster, life will remain hectic for the team’s new coaches.
“It’s still kind of crazy,” Shannon said. “But I got to kind of a routine now. We don’t have to get as many guys anymore, so that’s kind of slowed it down a little bit. But until we get everybody that we need, it’s still going. “
USC men’s basketball roster moves
Troy Boynton (April 16) – Evansville
Hayden Brown (April 23) – The Citadel
Meechie Johnson (April 25) – Ohio State
Ebrima Dibba (April 27) – Coastal Carolina
Transfers out (listed with new college where applicable)
Brandon Martin (April 27)
Keyshawn Bryant (April 22)
Mike Green (March 28)
Devin Carter (March 28) – Providence
Wildens Leveque (March 27) – Massachusetts
Ta’Quan Woodley (March 26) – Massachusetts
Jermaine Couisnard (March 25)
Erik Stevenson (March 24) – West Virginia
This story was originally published May 4, 2022 5:23 PM.