Lamont Paris will keep smiling inside as he starts working on Mocs

Lamont Paris will keep smiling inside as he starts working on Mocs

UTC introduces new men's basketball coach

April 5th, 2017 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

Steve Cook, left, meets new Mocs basketball coach Lamont Paris at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Tuesday.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

About Lamont Paris

* Hometown: Findlay, Ohio

* Birth date: Nov. 11, 1973

* Degrees: Wooster, bachelor of science, business/economics, 1996; Indiana State, master of science, recreation and sports management, 2000

* Career:

Assistant coach, Wooster, 1997-98

Assistant coach, DePauw, 1999-2000

Assistant coach, Indiana-University-Pennsylvania, 2001-04

Assistant coach, Akron, 2005-10

Assistant coach, Wisconsin, 2010-16

Associate head coach, Wisconsin, 2017

 

 

The smile may leave new University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball coach Lamont Paris' face at some point soon.

But internally, it's not going anywhere.

The 43-year-old former Wisconsin assistant was introduced as the Mocs' new leader Tuesday at the Mapp Building on the UTC campus. Throughout the time that he spoke, he calmly exuded the confidence that made him athletic director David Blackburn's choice to replace Matt McCall, who after two seasons left to take the same position at Massachusetts.

"It's an exciting moment," Paris said after his introductory news conference. "The day that smile isn't there on the inside, you probably have to leave that institution, so it's always going to be there. That's why you spend a lot of time making decisions on what you're going to do, but it's a short honeymoon.

"We have to get to work and improve in order to get guys, so there won't be much time to do it outwardly, but inside it's going to be there, no question."

Paris played at Division III Wooster University in Ohio and twice was an All-North Coast Atlantic Conference selection. The team made three NCAA tournament appearances during his playing career.

He started his coaching career at Wooster, then moved up to Division II before spending the last 13 seasons as an assistant at the Division I level. He spent six seasons at Akron, helping the Zips to four postseason tournament appearances (one NCAA tournament, two National Invitation Tournaments and a College Basketball Insider appearance).

That led to his opportunity as a Wisconsin assistant under Bo Ryan and most recently Greg Gard, who made him the associate head coach. During that seven-year span, the Badgers advanced to six NCAA Sweet 16s, two Final Fours and a national runner-up finish in 2015.

He plans to bring a similar style to UTC, so the goal is to be efficient offensively. That may mean a shot in the first few seconds or in the final few seconds of a shot clock. Defensively he plans on the team being tough but disciplined.

Head coaching possibilities came up for him, some of which he passed on while others he was passed on. One of those opportunities came at UTC in 2015, when Blackburn chose McCall over Paris to succeed Will Wade. The two stayed in touch, and Paris never gave up on the belief that he would be a head coach at some point.

"Maybe later in a person's career, you start to think that," he said. "I didn't hunt a lot of jobs because my situation was really good, so I was very selective, very realistic. There are some jobs that open that you're not a realistic candidate for, so it wasn't to that point.

"I wasn't counting the clock to see where that would have been."

Paris plans to head back to Wisconsin to handle some things before returning to Chattanooga. He met with the returning UTC players Monday night and will hit the recruiting trail later this week.

While the returning roster and expected incoming players are a talented group, they will be inexperienced. The Mocs return 25 percent of their scoring and 38 percent of their rebounding from this past season, so while expectations won't be high, the team isn't expected to hit rock bottom, either.

"Lamont's a veteran coach," Blackburn said. "He's been around for a while, and he's a great human being. He's had the ability to be around great mentors and coaches, and who you hang around dictates what good looks like.

"He can evaluate talent and then take that talent and teach it the right way. He's a master at winning the soul of the person he's dealing with."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.


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