'I want you on board'

‘I want you on board’

First-year South Carolina men’s basketball coach Lamont Paris grabbed the microphone following the scrimmage portion of the Garnet & Black Madness basketball event to address the 2,000 or so people at the Colonial Life Arena. He was blunt, setting expectations, but also in praise of his players.

Of the 14 players listed on the official men’s basketball roster, eight are new faces. Two were signed by the former basketball staff out of high school, two high schoolers joined the program under Paris and four others came in through the NCAA Transfer Portal.

VIP: Observations from Garnet & Black Madness

It’s a new team, and expectations outside of the building are low, as the Gamecocks were picked to finish last in the 14-team Southeastern Conference by the league’s media.

And when Paris grabbed the mic, he made it quite clear that there were going to be some tough times right now. He also made it quite clear that he wants the fans on board, and that those same fans will be pleased as the program grows.

“We have a good group of young men. I want you on board, and want you on board through this whole process,” Paris told the crowd.

“There are going to be some days that are fantastic out here. There are some days we look like, what’s that team the Harlem Globetrotters used to play that would always lose – some days we’re going to look like that. Some days we’re going to look like the Washington Generals, but most days we’re going to look like the Harlem Globetrotters.”

Paris said that he’s surrounded himself with a great assistant coaches and support staff members, and that there have been some difficult days. There are things that are easy, and many things that aren’t, that have proven hard to pick up.

But he wants the Colonial Life Arena filled up with vocal fan support because those in attendance are going to feel the same source of pride that he does at this early time in his tenure at South Carolina.

“I hope that you guys know how much work goes in and how proud I am of them,” Paris said. “This is going to be your team. I want you to be invested in it. I want you to be a big part of the growth and success of these young men because I tell you this, they’re definitely worth it.”

South Carolina will play its exhibition game against Mars Hill on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at the Colonial Life Arena. Tip-off of the regular season is against South Carolina State on Nov. 8 at home. Times for both of those games have not yet been announced.

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