Paris Fits Right In

Although having the fewest division 1 coaching years on the staff, Wisconsin fourth-year assistant Lamont Paris has fit right in with Bo Ryan's staff, all the while utilizing his Ohio connections to land two impressive post prospects.

MADISON - Lamont Paris knew he was joining a finely tuned coaching staff when Bo Ryan hired him prior to the 2010 season.

Although the system and the personnel had a lot to do with it, Wisconsin had become a Big Ten powerhouse under Ryan's watch in large part to the continuity of the coaching staff. Greg Gard has been coaching alongside Ryan since 1993 while Close, who joined Wisconsin in 2003, has been involved in coaching at the division 1 level since the early 1980s.

Paris would seem to be the odd man out, a young 37-year-old assistant who got his first division 1 coaching job at Akron in 2005, but there's no question that his laid-back personality has allowed him to fit right into the Wisconsin coaching tree.

"It took me a few days to find out how things are done," recalled Paris. "Some coaches like a guy who is real fired up. Some coaches like a guy who is this or that. Here, Coach Ryan is a guy who lets you be who you are."

In the eyes of Ryan, that was Paris being a relentless recruiter who can relate to kids at the beginning, middle or tail end of their college career and develop them into key contributors. Nigel Hayes – a Paris recruit – has been open about the amount of time he's put in with Paris this season and the four members of the 2010 recruiting class have learned and adjusted to the UW program together.

"It's been fun to have a coach come in who is ready to contribute to this team," said senior Ben Brust, one of those four 2010 recruits. "He wants to bring in different ideas and coach. He's done a good job developing through the system. We get mad at him when he refs sometimes, but he does it to make us better in the games and give us teaching points."

Like his current boss, Paris climbed the ladder from Division III, to Division II to the mid-major level and has a good connection in the state of Ohio, which made him a popular person on Gard's speed dial while Paris was at Akron. Handling the recruiting in Ohio before Paris was hired, Paris said Gard would call him up to get tips on some kids UW was monitoring.

"When they were recruiting Traevon (Jackson), he would call me and ask me what I was hearing and what the latest was," said Paris. "That developed a friendship through that."

The dialogue between the two also led Paris to get to know more about the positive working conditions Gard and the other assistants were experiencing under Ryan. When Howard Moore left to become the head coach at Illinois-Chicago, Paris, for the first time, had a connection to a school he wanted to work for.

"I knew they did things the right way, which was very important for me, so I wanted to get involved in the job," said Paris. "Greg went to bat for me during the process. I had very similar backgrounds to Coach Ryan in how we had come through the ranks, so that helped me to. I just thought it was a really good fit. I knew when it came open, it was something I wanted to pursue."

Paris was adamant that he wasn't trying to do anything outlandish to Wisconsin's recruiting efforts in Ohio, only to simply add to them with the connections he's established since he was at the College of Wooster, a private liberal arts school in the northern part of the state where he was a team captain and MVP his junior and senior year.

It hasn't taken Paris long to tap into some of those connections to help fortify Wisconsin's depth in the front court, landing Vitto Brown out of Bowling Green and Hayes out of Toledo in the 2013 recruiting class. While Brown has played minimal minutes off the bench in his true freshman season, Hayes enters Thursday's home game against Minnesota averaging 10.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, putting himself in the conversation for the conference's sixth man of the year and freshman of the year awards.

Successful out recruiting Ohio State for Hayes, Paris knew it was going to hard predicting the type of impact Hayes would have on Wisconsin at year one, but worked tirelessly on him in the recruiting process because he could see the physical ability and natural strength the freshman possessed.

"We knew he would be ready to get in games because a lot of times strength is the biggest obstacle freshmen face," said Paris. "We knew he was going to be able to help from a physical standpoint. His mental capacity is very, very high, which has allowed him to contribute this early."

While Ohio went untapped in the 2014 recruiting class and isn't a primary focus in 2015, Paris has already extended three scholarship offers to 2016 kids in Ohio, developing early relationships with talented prospects.

No matter where the kids come from, however, Paris has fit right into a coaching staff that is focused more on the end product than the process.

"It's not always kumbaya in the relationship with the older guys and the younger guys at some programs," said Paris. "Here it was, and it came pretty naturally with us. You never know how it's going to mesh, but it's been tremendous. There's no egos. Nobody cares who recruits who, and we don't even view it as that. They're going to be a Badger and we're all Badgers, too."

Badger Nation Top Stories