VMI hires Harrison as Assistant Basketball Coach

VMI head basketball coach Andrew Wilson announced Thursday the hiring of Paul Harrison as the team’s new assistant coach and defensive coordinator.
Harrison comes to the Institute by way of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he had been on staff since the 2015-16 season, and he helped Bucknell raise banners in each of his first four seasons. Prior to the 2019-20 season, Harrison was promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach. 
Bucknell captured Patriot League regular-season titles in each of Harrison’s first four campaigns, and in 2017 and 2018 the Bison followed with Patriot League Tournament titles and automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament. In 2016-17, the Bison toppled arch-rival Lehigh 81-65 in the PL championship game. The Bison finished 26-9 overall, 15-3 in the Patriot League, and dropped a hard-fought 86-80 decision to fourth-seeded West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m very excited to welcome Paul to VMI and the Lexington community,” Wilson said. “He is a great guy, outstanding basketball coach and has impacted winning at every stop along the way. He knows what it takes to build a program of significance in the Southern Conference. Paul will work tirelessly to help elevate the program and build meaningful relationships with our current and former players.”
In 2017-18, Bucknell went 16-2 in Patriot League play, then toppled Loyola, Boston University and Colgate in the Patriot League Tournament. The Bison went on to earn a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they dropped a four-point verdict to Michigan State.
In 2018-19, the Bison captured their fifth straight Patriot League regular-season title and eighth in a nine-year span.
Harrison worked with the Bucknell post players, and he mentored two consecutive Patriot League Players of the Year. Nana Foulland was the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, and Zach Thomas earned Player of the Year honors in 2018 after leading the league in both scoring and rebounding. Harrison also helped develop Nate Sestina, Foulland’s backup for the previous three seasons, into an all-conference center in his first year as a starter.
Prior to Bucknell, Harrison had logged 14 years of experience as a college basketball coach, primarily as an assistant coach at very successful Division I mid-major programs. For the previous two seasons, Harrison was the head coach at Clayton State in Georgia. He inherited a team in rebuilding mode with only six players on the roster, and in his second year in 2014-15 led the squad to a winning season (15-12) and a spot in the Division II regional rankings during the year.
Prior to his head-coaching stint at Clayton State, Harrison spent six years as an assistant coach, including the last two as associate head coach, at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. During his time at Wofford under head coach Mike Young, the Terriers compiled a 111-85 record and a 74-47 mark in the Southern Conference. Wofford captured consecutive league titles in 2010 and 2011, and in the NCAA Tournament lost close games to Wisconsin (53-49) in 2010 and BYU (74-66) in 2011. After graduating five seniors from the 2011 championship team, Wofford came back the next season and won 19 games, including a victory over Wake Forest, and participated in the CBI postseason tournament.
A 1993 graduate of Washington & Lee University, Harrison had two tours at College of Charleston, first as a graduate assistant from 1996-98 and then as a full-time assistant from 1999-2001. Working under head coach John Kresse, the Cougars won league titles in all four of Harrison’s seasons in Charleston, compiling an overall record of 99-22 and a 63-11 mark in league play in the Trans America Athletic Conference and the Southern Conference. In 1997, the Cougars were ranked as high as No. 16 nationally and defeated Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Harrison also had one-year stops as an assistant coach at Long Island (1998-99) and Southeastern Louisiana (2005-06). In 2001, he took a break from coaching to attend law school, and he earned his Juris Doctor from Tulane University Law School in May 2004. Harrison practiced law in New Orleans and also helped out as an assistant coach at Metairie Park Country Day School before returning to the collegiate coaching ranks.
Harrison and his wife, Heather, have two children, Grace and Henry.


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