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South Carolina basketball coach Lamont Paris agrees to contract extension

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Lamont Paris is not going anywhere.

The Associated Press Southeastern Conference coach of the year said Thursday he’s agreed to a contract extension that’s expected to include a hefty raise after a program turnaround in his second season with South Carolina.

Paris’ new deal is expected to be through 2029-30 and pay him more than $4 million a season, a person with knowledge of the deal told the AP.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement still must be approved by the school’s board of trustees. The trustees have set a meeting for Friday with the only item on the agenda, “Approval of Athletics Employment Contract.”

Paris talked about his new deal after the 15th-ranked Gamecocks defeated Arkansas 80-66 in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday for their program-record tying 26th win this season to match the 2017 team.

“This is where I’m supposed to be,” Paris said. “I had a great conversation with our athletics director, Ray Tanner, and we’re really happy with where the program is."

Paris was talked about for other college basketball openings, particularly at Ohio State and Louisville. He was glad to end any speculation that he would leave.

“People talk about a lot of other opportunities that are out there or might be out there, but this is where I’m supposed to be," he said. "This is the group. I love where I am. I love this group. And so, we made it official, pending the board approval. We’ll see how that goes. Fingers crossed.”

Paris has led the Gamecocks to a 26-6 mark this season after going 11-21 a year ago in his debut season. South Carolina returned to the national rankings this season for the first time since 2017.

The Gamecocks defeated SEC powers Kentucky at home and Tennessee on the road on the way to 13 league wins, the second most in program history.

South Carolina gets its first chance to break the program's wins record for a season when it faces fourth-seeded, No. 12 Auburn, on Friday.

Paris had his first head coaching job at Chattanooga in 2018 and led the Mocs to the NCAA Tournament two years ago.

He took over at South Carolina after the school dismissed Frank Martin, who had one NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 years on the job. Martin led the Gamecocks to the Final Four in 2017.

South Carolina women's coach Dawn Staley, also named SEC coach of the year, was courtside in Nashville, Tennessee, watching the men's team. Staley and her No. 1 Gamecocks won the SEC Tournament last week to enter the NCAA Tournament at 32-0.

“Lamont is calm, cool, collected. He's the ultimate competitor,” Staley said on ESPN. “It requires that to get the amount of wins they're getting. Kudos to Lamont for taking it to (athletic director) Ray Tanner's wallet.”

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball