South Carolina men’s basketball coach Lamont Paris He didn’t have to go far when he hired his first job. Former Gamecocks basketball captain and SEC legend Carrie Rich He was on the road at his farthest point, often in the building before arriving in Paris.
Rich is brought in to work in an off-court role as a special assistant to the head coach, a title that sounds vague, but offers Rich the freedom to help the basketball team in many ways. One of Rich’s main duties is to help connect this coaching staff, an entirely new group in Palmetto State, to the community.
And it’s an easy task for Rich, whose voice carries weight in Columbia City because his actions over decades command such respect.
After graduating from CA Johnson High School, the former Gamecocks point guard quickly became very important to Paris.
“It’s relationships. Paris told TheBigSpur.com in a one-on-one interview, when asked what makes Rich so respected in the state.
“He’s made connections across the state, not just when it comes to the popular basketball game, but in general throughout the community, from business owners to law enforcement. It was fun being around and watching. His phone just doesn’t stop ringing. He really is a man.” Good, high-character and loyal as much as they come in. He has a unique perspective on this university as a Colombian, as a kid and as a basketball player on this program. We are fortunate to have him.”
When Rich graduated from CA Johnson High School, home of the Green Hornets, he began his college career as a Catmount in West Carolina. Soon he moved to South Carolina, returned to the city where he grew up, and eventually became a two-time captain under a former coach. Eddie Vogler.
Basketball coach at Westwood High School John Combs He was the director of the South Carolina Freshman Program when Rich was a senior. The two became connected in college basketball, but became formidable allies in promoting high school basketball in this state.
“There’s a reason he’s a leader, because people trusted him. People still trust him in his dealings with high school kids, and the college kids who’ve been to the Pro-Am event, he’s been on the radio and in the media,” Combs told TheBigSpur.com.
“He was always fair, but he always wanted to promote basketball in the field. The thing I love about Curry is that basketball in Columbia, basketball in South Carolina, that’s what he likes. Some guys like to have a basketball job anywhere. Carey wasn’t looking forward to going anywhere other than South Carolina. This area is really important to him. It’s not just a job, it’s a big part of his life.”
Rich starred in the Gamecocks from 1993 to 95. He scored 784 career points while making 340 assists in 79 games during his career.
Rich ranks sixth all-time in Carolina history with 4.30 assists per game, and his 5.16 assists per game during the 1994 season ranks seventh in Gamecock history for one season. As a senior, he averaged 13.4 points, and led the team in scoring. He also averaged 3.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in his final year at the Onyx. He served as the captain of the team in the 1993-1994 and 1994-1995 seasons.
“He played basketball here in town with CA Johnson, was in the trenches and understood where a lot of these guys come from. Over time, he continued to develop great relationships,” Combs said. “He’s developed relationships with a lot of different people in town outside of the basketball world. For a man, I don’t think I’ve ever run into anyone who doesn’t trust Curry. Being trustworthy and honest with people carries a lot of weight these days.”
Rich played a huge role in helping South Carolina reach a five-star forward JJ Jacksonwho was the highest-ranked player in the 2023 basketball enlistment category before moving to the 2022 class and joining this fall.
And a big part of the reason for the success of the state’s new Gamecocks coaching staff is the relationships Rich forged over the course of his career, and the introductions he made between the new basketball team and the basketball community.