JSU Athletics Director Greg Seitz formally introduced Ray Harper as the Gamecocks new men's basketball coach on Thursday. In the featured video you will hear Harper's thoughts on the program and what he wants to build with the Gamecocks.
Special thanks to JSU Sports Information for biographical data.
Harper is the program's 11th head coach and the fifth to run the Gamecocks at the Division I level. A veteran with over 30 years of coaching experience at the collegiate ranks, Harper takes the reigns in Jacksonville with a 431-127 career record in 17 years as a head coach. That career includes four national championships - two at the Division II level and two in NAIA. Harper replaces James Green, who reached mutual agreement with JSU to part ways on March 16. He comes to Jacksonville after a five-year stint at Western Kentucky that saw him post an 89-64 mark that included three 20-win seasons and two trips to the NCAA Tournament. After serving over two years as an assistant at WKU, he took over as the Hilltoppers' interim coach in January of the 2011-12 season and was named the full-time head coach in early February.
At WKU, he went to the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and 2013 and won 20 games in his first three full seasons, making him the first coach in WKU history to achieve the feat.
Prior to joining the WKU program as an assistant in 2009, Harper built a head coaching resume that included four national championships, five national runner-up finishes, eight conference titles, five national coach-of-the-year honors and a 342-63 record over 12 years at Kentucky Wesleyan and Oklahoma City University.
Harper was named the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year four-straight years from 1999-2002, while earning the honor at the NAIA Division I level once with Oklahoma City following the 2008 title run. He was selected conference coach of the year on seven occasions, as well as the region coach of the year twice.
In nine years at his alma mater Kentucky Wesleyan in Owensboro, Ky., Harper laid claim to seven NCAA coaching records, surpassing Division I record-holders in all instances, including becoming the fastest to 200 wins (224 games), holding the most consecutive 30-win seasons (6) and compiling the most wins in each of the first four-through-eight seasons of his career.
With NCAA Division II title game appearances each season from 1998-2003, the Bremen, Ky., native became the first NCAA head coach since John Wooden to appear in six-straight NCAA National Championship games. He won in 1999 and 2001.
The NCAA requires a minimum of 10 seasons at the Division II level to officially qualify for its list of head coaching records, but Harper's nine-year record of 247-46 at Kentucky Wesleyan would give him the best winning percentage in Division II history at .843.
At Kentucky Wesleyan, he coached two National Players of the Year, seven All-Americans and nine NABC Great Lakes All-Region players. He had 11 players selected All-Great Lakes Valley Conference and two that were named the league's player of the year.
Through seven seasons, he had more victories than any coach at the NCAA Division I and II levels (210). Harper reached 200 wins in 224 games, which was faster than NCAA Division I record holder and Hall of Famer Clair Bee, who won 200 in 231 games.
On February 17, 2008, Harper's number 12 jersey was permanently retired at Kentucky Wesleyan, and the floor at Jones Gymnasium was named "Ray Harper Court."
From Kentucky Wesleyan, Harper went to Oklahoma City, where in three seasons at the NAIA Division I institution, Harper put together a 95-17 record that featured back-to-back national titles in 2007 and 2008.
He has also coached on the international level, having led USA Basketball men's junior team to a 7-1 record and a fifth-place finish at the 2003 FIBA World Championships in Greece.
*Courtesy: JSU Sports Information (www.jsugamecocksports.com)