CHATTANOOGA--- (GoMocs.com) The Chattanooga Mocs introduced the 20th head men's basketball coach in program history Tuesday as Lamont Paris takes center stage. Paris is most recently the associate head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers.
Paris brings a reputation as a tireless recruiter as well as fantastic on the court coaching chops. But the area he most emphasizes is relationships.
"Relationships are the key," he shared prior to his introduction. "I think everything is about people. Basketball is just the vehicle, but in reality you are affecting people's lives and dealing with them. I think you have to spend time building relationships and be honest, be genuine. People can see through things and when you do that, you can't go wrong.
"Once you have a great relationship then you are able to coach. When you are giving information and asking guys to do things, as they trust the relationship you have with them, it's more realistic they will do the things you expect them to do."
Another observation of Lamont Paris. He is a flat-out winner. Teams he's coached over 20-plus campaigns are 487-194. That's a .715 winning percentage and includes 12 NCAA Tournament appearances with three Final Fours. He's never experienced a losing season.
"I've been very fortunate, very fortunate to work with great players and coaches along the way," he continued. "I've learned a lot, and a lot of it is a mentality. Everywhere I've been, we just had that mentality that we would win.
"That was the guys' character and as coaches, we helped develop that and make them believe in themselves. I've always been such a competitor and have found a way to end up on the right side of things. I'm looking forward to trying to instill that into our guys and have them believe in themselves to the fullest."
His last 13 years have been spent at two DI institutions – Wisconsin (2011-17) and Akron (2005-10). Both enjoyed a resurgent period upon his arrival.
The Zips posted their first 20-win season in 21 years going 23-10 in 2006. He assisted new Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot averaging 23 wins per campaign with a 139-62 mark topping 20 victories in each of the last five years.
Wisconsin got a big spark adding Paris in 2010. The Badgers averaged 27 wins per year over the past seven campaigns. They captured a school-record 36 triumphs in 2014-15 finishing as the national runner-up a year after reaching the Final Four in 2014 with Paris influence considered key in the rise in national prominence.
The program won 12 or more Big Ten games all seven seasons with Paris on the bench. They captured the league title in 2015 and never finished lower than fourth. Along with the two final fours, the program reached the Sweet 16 four more times.
Paris developed a reputation as a fantastic recruiter and developer of talent. He is credited with keying efforts with All-American and current Charlotte Hornet Frank Kaminsky as well as Houston Rocket Sam Dekker, Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig and Ethan Happ among others.
"They were great players who had great skill sets to begin with, but all of them had a lot of room for growth," Paris noted. "Any of those players, as they were freshmen and sophomores, the country wasn't aware of them the same way as when they were juniors and seniors because they continued to develop. For guys to develop they have to be committed to it, and know that some progress at different rates.
"[Wisconsin All-American] Frank Kaminsky was not a guy who was able to play early in his career, but he stuck and committed to it, and we were committed to developing him. I spent a lot of time with him during that process. You have to be committed to development. You're not always able to recruit the top notch McDonald's All-American talent, and I don't think you have to.
"It's not where you start, it's where you finish."