Q&A with new Clayton State men's basketball coach Paul Harrison

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.

New Clayton State men’s basketball coach Paul Harrison doesn’t have time to let any grass grow under his feet. That’s because he’s too busy trying to plant seeds that will hopefully give way to a return to championships for the Lakers. Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald sports writer Gabriel Stovall was able to keep him still long enough to chat with him about his transition from Wofford assistant to Div. II head coach.

Question: What is it about your time at Wofford and at College of Charleston that has prepared you for this time?

Answer: I had a lot of responsibilities at Wofford and even at College of Charleston with coach Joe Crass where I cut my coaching teeth. We implemented a lot of things to where I was given coaching responsibilities, especially on the floor, in small groups, clinics, whole team opportunities and coaching and teaching during practice and even in games. A lot of times people hire a head coach that’s more of a recruiter. But as a head coach you have to be a teacher coach. I feel like my time as an assistant has prepared me in that regard.

Q: How would you describe your coaching style?

A: Kind of building on what I said about teaching, as a coaching staff, you want teachers. Teachers are communicators and communicators are good recruiters because you have to communicate in order to build relationships. I’m a guy who likes to communicate. When you’re in with a recruit and you have to tell them why they should choose your school over another, you have to be able to think on your feet and communicate that to them. It’s going to be about player development in this program. We’re going to coach to make good players into great ones. Guys are going to get better here. They won’t stay the same.”

Q: What does it take to build a perennial championship contender at Clayton State?

A: “You have to first acknowledge what you have here. It’s a great school academically. You’re so close to Atlanta and you play in a great league. And again, player development is a huge part of that. I’ll be honest with you. The kind of player that’s going to help you win championships here is a kid that will come here, get his degree and want to go play overseas. Because if he wants to play overseas, that means he’s going to want to continue getting better and improving. Do you want great players right off the bad? Sure. But we had a saying at Wofford: ‘Don’t miss out on good chasing great.’ That’s because the great may not come, but you can’t win with bad. So we can’t get caught losing on the very good by always chasing the great.”

Q: Athletic Director Carl McAloose has said he wanted someone who understood the importance of getting community involved with the program. How can you help make that happen?

A: “The best way to generate interest is winning. Winning does everything. When I got to Wofford the places was packed. But it wasn’t packed when we first got there. Everyone loves the winner. Of course there’s something to be said about going to community organizations, Kiwanis and Lions Club, speaking to fans, talking to fans and just treating people how you’d like to be treated. But winning goes a long way in that as well.”

Q: How has women’s coach Dennis Cox been helpful to you as you get acclimated here?

A: “Coach Cox has definitely been helping me some, especially with logistics and getting the lay of the land in Div. II, and also in what specifically happens here at Clayton State. He’s also given me his insight on what he thinks about some of our players. Obviously it’s unbelievable in terms of their success. And yeah, it motivates you. But you can’t try to compete with that. For us to get there it takes a focus that is one day at a time. You chip away and do one thing at a time and one game at a time. You can’t get there in one fell swoop.”