Former Western Kentucky coach Ray Harper was officially introduced as the new head coach at Jacksonville State University this week.
Here is a release from JSU:
JACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville State has selected a proven winner to take over its men's basketball team.
On Wednesday, Gamecocks athletics Director Greg Seitz announced the hiring of Ray Harper as the program's 11th head coach and the fifth to run the Gamecocks at the Division I level. Harper will be formally introduced at a press conference on Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Media Room at Pete Mathews Coliseum. The press conference will be streamed live on the OVC Digital Network at this link.
"We are thrilled to have Ray Harper take over our men's basketball program," Seitz said. "He is a winner and has proven that at every stop he has made in his coaching career. We feel fortunate to be able to land a coach with his credentials at Jacksonville State."
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.
"I'm excited about the opportunity," Harper said before meeting with his team for the first time on Wednesday evening. "We are going to work extremely hard and we are going to be about winning championships. We know it's going to be a lot of work, but we are ready to get started."
"Our goal at Jacksonville State is to win championships and play in the NCAA Tournament in all of our sports," Seitz said. "Coach Harper has won championships everywhere he's been, and there's no reason to think he won't continue that success at JSU. The future of JSU Basketball is a bright one."
Harper replaces James Green, who reached mutual agreement with JSU to part ways on March 16. He was chosen from a long list of what Seitz called very qualified applicants.
"As expected, we had a great deal of interest in this job," Seitz added. "We had over 180 applicants and many very qualified coaches that showed interest in becoming the next coach at Jacksonville State," added Seitz. "Coach Harper's credentials stood out from the rest of the candidates, and we are excited to have him join the Gamecock family."
"JSU is committed to having a winning basketball program where student-athletes excel both on and off the court," JSU President Dr. John M. Beehler said. "Hiring Coach Harper is the first step in this journey. He is a top-flight coach with a track record of conference titles, post-season tournament appearances and student-athlete academic success. He is the right coach at the right time to take our program to the next level."
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.
After taking the helm at Western Kentucky in a tough situation midway through the 2011-12 season Harper began to put his stamp on the program, and the team responded in a big way. The Hilltoppers went 11-8 after he took over and 7-1 after he was named full-time head coach, which came after starting the season with a 5-11 record.
His debut with the Hilltoppers saw him rally them to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament title and a win over Mississippi Valley State in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament in Dayton. A 20-12 record in 2012-13 ended with the Hilltoppers' second trip to the Big Dance in as many years.
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.
THE HARPER FILE
Born: October 11, 1961, Bremen, Ky.
High School: Bremen, Bremen, Ky., 1980
High School Athletics: Basketball, guard, four letters (first-team all-state, two-time district player of the year)
College: Texas: 1981-82, Kentucky Wesleyan: 1983-85 (Bachelor of Science)
College Athletics: Basketball, guard, two letters at Texas (1981-82), two letters at Kentucky Wesleyan (1984-85); 1981 Southwest Conference Rookie of the Year, 1985 third-team All-American, 1985 all-conference
VCU, graduate assistant, 1986
Kentucky Wesleyan, assistant coach, 1987-90
Kentucky Wesleyan, associate head coach, 1991-96
Kentucky Wesleyan, head coach, 235-66 record from 1997-2005 (1999, 2001 NCAA Division II National Championships)
Oklahoma City, head coach, 95-17 record from 2006-08 (2007, 2008 NAIA Division I National Championships)
WKU, assistant coach, 2009-12
WKU, interim head coach, 2012
WKU, head coach, 89-64 record from 2012-16
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