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SEC Tipoff Blog: Paris brings new look to Gamecocks

103 days ago
Kevin Scarbinsky
Photo: Jimmie Mitchell/SEC

Welcome to the SEC Basketball Media Days Blog, your online home for the big news, behind-the-scenes notes and quotes and special moments that make this annual event, held this year in Birmingham, Ala., the unofficial start of college basketball season. Check back for updates each day throughout the week.

Young and old come together to start a new era at South Carolina

New South Carolina coach Lamont Paris has put together a diverse roster for his first season with the Gamecocks. The extremes were represented Wednesday at SEC Tipoff 23.

Sixth-year senior forward Hayden Brown played 111 games at The Citadel, becoming only the second player in school history to collect 1,400 points and 700 rebounds, before transferring to South Carolina. He's 24 years old.

Gregory "GG" Jackson II, the consensus top recruit in the Class of 2023, reclassified to the Class of 2022, where he was the No. 6 overall prospect according to On3. The highest-rated signee in South Carolina history, he's starting his college career early in his hometown of Columbia, S.C. He's 17 years old.

So Brown must feel like a big brother to his teammates, especially Smith, right?

"Almost more like a father" in the case of Smith, Brown said. "Big brother might be downplaying it a little." The other day at practice, one of his teammates called Brown "Pops."

It's an interesting dynamic considering that Jackson said he chose to stay home and play at South Carolina in large part because of "the family atmosphere" Paris already has begun to create.

"I feel like I can make my statement," Jackson said. The 6-foot-9, 215-pound MVP of the 2022 NBA Players Association Top 100 camp then provided a self-scouting report: "Likes to play in the midrange. Can get the rebound and push it in transition. He's a loveable guy who always has a smile on his face."

Paris has been a part of several successful rebuilding jobs, including his last stop at Chattanooga, his first head coaching job. In the last three of his five years there, the Mocs went 65-29, including a magical run to the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Having a player with Jackson's potential "doesn't hurt the rebuilding process," Paris said. "I can say that with 100 percent certainty."