Remarkable buzzer-beater sends longtime Badgers assistant Lamont Paris to NCAA Tournament as Chattanooga head coach

Chattanooga head coach Lamont Paris is a former University of Wisconsin assistant coach.

Chattanooga head coach Lamont Paris is a former University of Wisconsin assistant coach.

Former University of Wisconsin assistant men’s basketball coach Lamont Paris will appear in the NCAA Tournament for the first time as a head coach courtesy of a remarkable overtime buzzer-beater by Chattanooga’s David Jean-Baptiste on Monday night.

Competing in the Southern Conference championship game, Jean-Baptiste took an inbound pass on the other end of the floor with 4.3 seconds left after Furman, a school that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1980, hit a go-ahead layup for a 63-61 lead. Jean-Baptiste weaved into the front court and unleashed a 30-footer defended by two Paladins that swished through as time expired for a 64-63 triumph.

The win meant the Mocs were heading back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.

Paris, who was an assistant under both Bo Ryan and Greg Gard at Wisconsin from 2011-17, was hired as Mocs coach after the 2016-17 season when Chattanooga’s previous coach, Matt McCall, left to take the head job at the University of Massachusetts.

Paris’ team went 10-23 his first year and 3-15 in conference, but he quickly built the program back into a 20-win unit in 2019 and a 27-7 team this year, including a 14-4 mark in conference to win the SoCon regular-season crown.

The Ohio native was promoted to associate head coach after the 2016 season at Wisconsin, coinciding with Greg Gard’s official promotion to head coach. Paris, who joined UW in September 2010 after six years as an assistant with Akron, had been a finalist for the Chattanooga job two years before his hire when the job went to McCall instead.

Former UW assistant Lamont Paris, center back, coached under Bo Ryan, center.

Former UW assistant Lamont Paris, center back, coached under Bo Ryan, center.

One of his assistants with the Mocs is Tanner Bronson, a Nicolet High School alumnus who walked on with the Badgers and graduated from UW in 2008. Bronson was one of Paris’ first hires upon taking the Chattanooga job.

Jean-Baptiste, in his sixth year with the program and someone who’s been at Chattanooga longer than Paris, initially entered the transfer portal at the start of last season, looking to chase his dream of playing major NCAA D1 basketball. The Mocs got out to a 9-0 start, then were bolstered by Jean-Baptiste’s return.

“If David weren’t high-character, Jean-Baptiste would no longer be on this team,” Paris said at the time. “I can tell you that.”

More: Hear the radio calls of Jean-Baptiste’s game winner

“He wanted to be a part of what we are doing and obviously, it was an agreement from both sides. It made sense for him and was a good situation for him and for us to have him back on the team. I was surprised when it happened the first time and some things change, obviously, but Dave has enjoyed his time here and he has told me that. He and the team sat down and met, and we were willing to have him back.”

Now Jean-Baptiste is one of the early heroes of March Madness.

Furman's Marcus Foster (5) and Alex Hunter (10) react after Chattanooga's David Jean-Baptiste made the winning basket at the buzzer in overtime of the Southern Conference tournament championship game.

Furman’s Marcus Foster (5) and Alex Hunter (10) react after Chattanooga’s David Jean-Baptiste made the winning basket at the buzzer in overtime of the Southern Conference tournament championship game.

JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Buzzer beater sends Chattanooga, former UW coach to NCAA tournament