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Clayton State names Harrison its coach

Special Photo
Paul Harrison, who was the associate head coach at Wofford College in South Carolina, was named the new men’s basketball coach at Clayton State earlier this week.

Special Photo Paul Harrison, who was the associate head coach at Wofford College in South Carolina, was named the new men’s basketball coach at Clayton State earlier this week.

MORROW — One of the first calls Clayton State athletic director Carl McAloose made when he found out he would be in the market for a men’s basketball coach went to former College of Charleston coach John Kresse.

Paul Harrison File

Hometown: Larchmont, N.Y.

Alma mater: Graduated from Washington & Lee in 1993 with B.A. in history; Tulane in 2004 with law degree.

Coaching history: Assistant at Wofford (2007-13), College of Charleston (1996-98, 1999-2001), Long Island University (1998-99) and Southeastern Louisiana University (2005-06).

Family: wife, Heather; children, Grace (10) and Henry (8).

McAloose was impressed with the job that former College of Charleston assistant Gregg Marshall has done in building Wichita State into a mid-major power.

The first name that came out of Kresse’s mouth was Paul Harrison, the associate head coach at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. McAloose liked what he saw in Harrison and continued to pursue the coach.

On Monday afternoon, the 41-year-old Harrison was named the third men’s basketball coach in Clayton State history. He will officially start on Monday.

“Paul brings to us a great deal of excitement, basketball knowledge and contacts,” McAloose said. “We both have the same vision of building a great academic and basketball environment that will enable us to prepare our student-athletes for graduation and compete for national championships.”

Around 200 applicants applied for the job at the NCAA Div. II school. The head coaching job became vacant when Gordon Gibbons resigned in February after 12 seasons with the Lakers’ program.

“Clayton State hit a home run with Paul,” Wofford coach Mike Young said on Monday afternoon. “He will do a great job for them. Paul is a first-class person.”

Harrison knows the Georgia recruiting area since that was his main base during his stops at College of Charleston and Wofford. The new coach will be on campus the next three days to meet with returning players and start the process of assembling a staff, which will include two assistant coaches.

“My family and I look forward to getting started,” Harrison said in a statement released by the school.

He also has the endorsement of his former boss, Kresse.

“Paul did a tremendous job in teaching, recruiting and mentoring our players,” Kresse said in a statement. “We were successful because Paul was a real professional in handling his duties and responsibilities. I feel like Clayton State has hit a home run with the hiring of Paul Harrison.”

Wofford’s top season came in 2009-10 when the squad finished with a 26-9 record, winning the Southern Conference regular season and tournament titles. The Terriers advanced to their first NCAA Division I national tournament, falling to Wisconsin 53-49. The squad beat both Georgia and South Carolina that season and won 22 of its last 25 games.

The program also advanced to the NCAA Division I national tournament in 2011 after posting a 21-13 record, tying for first in the South Division of the Southern Conference and winning the 2011 Southern Conference Tournament. The Terriers faced BYU in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to the Cougars 74-66.

While coaching at the College of Charleston as an assistant and as a graduate assistant, Harrison was part of four 20-win seasons, several conference and conference tournament championships and two trips to the NCAA Division I national tournament. 

“We felt that the last three candidates that we were talking to could win a national championship,” McAloose said.