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MAHONE: Harrison “a home run” for Clayton State

Derrick Mahone

Derrick Mahone

MORROW — When it comes to describing their thoughts on new Clayton State men’s basketball coach Paul Harrison, his two former employers use the baseball term home run.

Both Wofford coach Mike Young and former College of Charleston coach John Kresse both said that the Lakers’ program has hit a “home run” in getting the 41-year-old Paul Harrison to lead the Div. II program.

When Clayton State athletic director Carl McAloose went searching for a coach, he was looking for a big splash. You have to understand that McAloose laid the ground work at this year’s NCAA Div. I men’s basketball tournament Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast University.

He was the athletics director that took the program from two-year status into a 14-program athletic department. McAloose has a vision.

The first-year Clayton State head sports man wants to hang another national championship banner in the school’s gymnasium.

McAloose knew Clayton State had potential, but he gained further proof into that during the selection process.

Over 200 coaches, some being former Div. I head coaches and top assistants at Div. I program sent in their resume to the small Div. II college.

It seems that Clayton State got the right man in McAloose, and now Harrison to set the groundwork for championship banner. That’s if Young and Kresse are right.

Consider that both have built their programs into success mid major programs.

Kresse is the former boss of Gregg Marshall, the coach that helped get Witchita State into this season’s Final Four in Atlanta. It was no surprise that McAloose first call would be to Kresse in the early stages of the Clayton State search.

“Who is the next Gregg Marshall?,” McAloose would ask Kresse.

Without hesitation, the legendary Kresse directed him to Paul Harrison.

Will the hire pan out? Only the next three to four years will tell, but Harrison has a solid resume. He has a strong academic pedigree.

Harrison graduated from Washington & Lee University, and owns a law degree from Tulane, a top law school.

Young willingly pointed out during our conversation late Monday evening that Wofford has a 100 percent graduation rate for its men’s team. He also said that the team consistently has a 3.0 or better grade-point average.

And Harrison is big reason. Wofford has been a consistent winner in the Southern Conference, a mid-major league of Div. I schools.

Harrison has long recruited Georgia and the Atlanta area during his tenure at Wofford and College of Charleston.

As McAloose says, “if he can put a fence up around Atlanta, we will be OK.”

Harrison is young, energetic and brings a wealth of basketball knowledge to an already solid Clayton State program. There is no doubt that he wants to succeed in his first shot as a college head coach.

And the Clayton State community is ready for him to be successful.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily/Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.