Jacksonville State hires Harper

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Ray Harper has been hired as the newest coach of Jacksonville State, the school announced Wednesday evening.

After a four-and-half-year stint at Western Kentucky, Harper resigned last month with two NCAA tournaments and a record of 89-64 on his resume. The Hilltoppers went 18-16 overall and 8-10 in Conference USA last season.

“We are thrilled to have Ray Harper take over our men’s basketball program,” Gamecocks athletic director Greg Seitz said in a statement released by the school.
“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.”

Jacksonville State is betting on Harper’s long list of achievements, which includes two NAIA national championships as a head coach, after the school and former coach James Green “mutually agreed to part ways” last month.

Harper has shown the ability to bend his style to the team he has, but traditionally has sported teams that are strong on both ends of the floor.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Harper said in a statement. “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.”

The Gamecocks, who finished the year with eight-straight losses, return leading scorer Malcom Drumwright, who missed the last part of the season with a shoulder injury, as well as most of the rest of last year’s core contributors.