University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball coach Lamont Paris has received a contract extension through the 2024-25 season, vice chancellor and athletic director Mark Wharton announced Thursday.
Paris, 22-43 overall and 10-26 in Southern Conference play in two seasons leading the Mocs, expressed his appreciation in a UTC release announcing the new deal.
"I want to give a very sincere thank you to Mark Wharton and Dr. Steven Angle," Paris said, referring to the university's chancellor. "The foundation of any good relationship is commitment. We had a change in leadership at the athletic director's position after I was hired, so it's a re-commitment having seen two years of what our plan is, what our growth has been and the vision moving forward.
"It feels great to have that belief in the plan, in the path we're taking and the way we are doing things. It is very gratifying."
Paris' first two UTC teams were plagued by injuries and inexperience. Several players from last season's squad, including Southern Conference freshman of the year Kevin Easley, are no longer with the team. Paris has replaced them with a strong recruiting class and the additions of graduate transfer Matt Ryan from Vanderbilt and West Virginia transfer Trey Doomes, a sophomore.
They join a roster that includes returning starters David Jean-Baptiste, Jonathan Scott and Ramon Vila, all upperclassmen, and key reserves Justin Brown, A.J. Caldwell and Maurice Commander, all sophomores.
"It was important to us to continue the building efforts Lamont has taken over his first two years," Wharton said in the release. "We believe in his vision for the program and how it has taken effect off the floor. We're excited at the caliber of student-athlete he is bringing on campus, and from I what saw in the Bahamas exhibition games, on the floor is soon to follow."
The team has excelled academically since the arrival of Paris, a former longtime assistant at Wisconsin. The previous best GPA for the group was 2.66 for the fall 2014 semester. That number has been topped in three of four semesters under Paris, including a program-record 2.97 last fall.
"In a perfect world, you make the changes you need and build the foundation you need instantaneously," Paris said in the release. "But when you're doing things above board, it takes a little while to get the foundation where we have right now.
"We finally have it where we want it to be with good experience. Our young guys are really promising."